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Scotts Miracle-Gro Sues Small Organic Fertilizer Company

The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company, a $2.2 billion assets giant which has at least a 59% share of the relevant market, has sued tiny TerraCycle, Inc., an inner-city company founded by college students to create an eco-friendly business. TerraCycle manufactures all-natural garden products by feeding organic waste to worms and bottling the resulting worm poop compost tea as ready-to use plant food in soda bottles collected by schools and other charities across North America. TerraCycle is located in the Urban Enterprise Zone of Trenton, New Jersey.

Scotts claims that the two companies' products look similar and will confuse customers because some TerraCycle plant foods have a green and yellow label with a circle and a picture of flowers and vegetables on it.

 Scotts also objects that TerraCycle says its plant food is as good or better than "a leading synthetic plant food" and is refusing Scotts' demands that TerraCycle hand over its scientific tests conducted at the Rutgers University EcoComplex to Scotts' scientists and lawyers. Scotts refuses to turn its tests over to TerraCycle.

To download the entire complaint, click here.

TerraCycle's Answer with Affirmative Defenses and Counterclaims has denied Scotts' claims that TerraCycle's advertising is untrue or that consumers will be confused by TerraCycle packaging. TerraCycle alleges that Scotts' trademark and trade dress claims are being used to maintain its monopoly power when it already has a market share estimated to be between 59% and 85% in published reports. TerraCycle alleges that Scotts has abandoned, misused and/or mutilated its green and yellow box trademark registration and should therefore be cancelled and that Scotts' claims are barred by the doctrine of unclean hands.

TerraCycle's filing includes examples of numerous competitive garden products packaged in green and yellow and of Miracle-Gro®'s use of other color schemes in its packaging.

 To see the entire answer and exhibits, click here.