Pom Wonderful Trade Dress Suit Dismissed at 12(b)(6) – SDNY

In the complex world of intellectual property (IP) law, trade dress suits often bring attention to the forefront of legal discussions. Recently, a significant case involving Pom Wonderful’s trade dress claims was dismissed at the 12(b)(6) stage in the Southern District of New York (SDNY). This development has sparked debates within legal circles about the standards for asserting trade dress infringement and the threshold for surviving a motion to dismiss. In this blog post, we will delve into the details of the case, explore the legal background of trade dress protection, and discuss the implications of this dismissal for the broader IP landscape.

Understanding Trade Dress

Trade dress refers to the visual appearance and overall image of a product that goes beyond its functional aspects. It encompasses various elements such as packaging, design, colors, shapes, and even the atmosphere associated with the product. Trade dress protection is available under the Lanham Act, which governs trademarks, service marks, and unfair competition.

Pom Wonderful’s Allegations

Pom Wonderful, a well-known brand in the beverage industry, filed a trade dress infringement lawsuit against a competitor, alleging that the competitor’s product packaging imitated Pom Wonderful’s distinctive trade dress. Pom Wonderful claimed that the competitor’s use of similar colors, fonts, and overall design created a likelihood of confusion among consumers, thereby infringing on Pom Wonderful’s trade dress rights.

The Legal Landscape

To succeed in a trade dress infringement claim, a plaintiff must establish that the trade dress is inherently distinctive or has acquired secondary meaning. Naturally, distinctive trade dress is distinctive on its face and doesn’t require proof of consumer recognition. On the other hand, trade dress with secondary meaning has acquired distinctiveness over time through extensive use and recognition in the marketplace.

Trade dress cases often involve a detailed analysis of the likelihood of confusion, where the court considers factors such as the similarity of the trade dresses, the strength of the plaintiff’s trade dress, the degree of consumer care, and the likelihood of expansion of product lines.

Dismissal at 12(b)(6) – SDNY

The defendant in the Pom Wonderful case moved to dismiss the trade dress infringement claim under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, arguing that Pom Wonderful failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. The court, in its decision, found that Pom Wonderful’s trade dress was not inherently distinctive and had not acquired secondary meaning.

The court emphasized that Pom Wonderful’s trade dress, consisting of the use of specific colors, fonts, and design elements, was not unique and did not stand out in the context of the beverage industry. Additionally, the court noted that Pom Wonderful did not provide sufficient evidence to support the claim that consumers associated the trade dress with a specific source, which is essential in establishing secondary meaning.

Implications for Trade Dress Cases

The dismissal of Pom Wonderful’s trade dress suit at the 12(b)(6) stage has implications for future trade dress cases. It underscores the importance of presenting substantial evidence of distinctiveness, mainly when relying on inherently weak trade dress elements such as standard colors and fonts. This decision sets a precedent that could make it more challenging for plaintiffs to survive a motion to dismiss in trade dress cases, prompting them to provide more detailed and convincing evidence at the outset.

Furthermore, this case serves as a reminder that not all product elements are eligible for trade dress protection. Courts will carefully scrutinize whether the trade dress in question is genuinely distinctive and whether it has acquired secondary meaning in the minds of consumers.

Promoting Clarity in Trade Dress Law

While the dismissal of Pom Wonderful’s case may be seen as a setback for the plaintiff, it contributes to the overall clarity of trade dress law. Courts must strike a balance between protecting legitimate trade dress rights and preventing the monopolization of functional or commonplace product features. A robust standard for trade dress protection ensures fair competition and fosters innovation by encouraging companies to develop truly distinctive and unique brand images.


The Pom Wonderful trade dress suit dismissal at the 12(b)(6) stage in the SDNY sheds light on the challenges and standards associated with trade dress protection. As the legal landscape continues to evolve, businesses and legal practitioners must stay informed about recent developments in IP law. This case reinforces the importance of presenting compelling evidence of distinctiveness and secondary meaning in trade dress claims.

As trade dress litigation becomes more nuanced, having experienced legal counsel is essential for both plaintiffs and defendants. If you find yourself navigating the complex terrain of intellectual property law, consider seeking guidance from a reputable IP law firm. At Brealant, we specialize in providing strategic and comprehensive legal solutions for intellectual property matters. Contact us today to ensure that your intellectual property rights are protected and enforced effectively.

Brealant: Your Partner in Protecting Intellectual Property Rights. Trust our experienced team for expert guidance and strategic solutions in IP law. Contact us today for personalized legal assistance.

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