Gillette’s Oral-B Trademark Protections Are Being Disputed
By: Trey Heller & CJ Rosenbaum
A recent Amazon trademark case involves the personal care company Gillette, more specifically its subsidiary Oral-B, and unidentified individuals who are selling their products without their permission, violating their trademarks. The case The Gillette Company, LLC v. The Individuals was filed on June 29, 2022, in the Northern District of Illinois. As of July 19, 2022, a temporary restraining order was filed by Gillette against the defendants. This means that the defendants’ accounts are in the process of being frozen on Amazon as well as other online marketplaces, meaning they will not be able to sell Oral-B products online or access their funds until further notice, or they retain their firm to overturn the restraining order.
What is Oral-B?
The plaintiff brand is Oral-B Electric Toothbrush, representing the brand party of The Gillette Company, LLC. Gillette is a personal care company specializing in products such as razors and shaving cream. Oral-B and Gillette are both owned by the parent company Procter & Gamble. Oral-B specializes in dental care products sold under both Oral-B and Crest branding, with its main product being electric toothbrushes. Oral-B sells multiple “series” of electric toothbrushes, as well as various replacement brush heads, floss, lozenges, water flossers, and mouth rinse. Oral-B’s products can be purchased online on their website as well as over-the-counter.
In addition to their own website, Oral-B also sells their products on Amazon. Oral-B is an official seller on Amazon with their own homepage where they sell the same products that are for sale on their own website. Various third-party sellers are also present on Amazon selling products with branding similar to Oral-B’s products. In the court filings, there are 20 Oral-B trademarks that are being disputed, which include Oral-B wordmarks and logos, as well as various trademarked brandings for its toothbrushes and brush heads such as “Flossaction,” “Dual Clean,” “Vitality,” and “Oral-B Complete Advantage,” among others. The earliest of the trademarks in question was registered in January 1951 and the latest was registered in October 2020. The trademarks are all live as the temporary restraining order is being filed.
What are the Amazon sellers being accused of?
There are three counts charged to the defendants in the first court filings. The first count is trademark infringement and counterfeiting, referring to the defendants selling counterfeit products featuring trademarked Oral-B branding. The trademarks are established for only Oral-B to use for their products, and as such the defendants are violating Oral-B’s trademarks. The defendants sold their counterfeit products with trademarked insignia without the consent of Oral-B, who allege that the defendants have caused major harm to their company. The second count is false designation of origin, meaning that the sale of counterfeit Oral-B products by unauthorized sellers is misleading potential customers. This includes the promotion, marketing, and display of the counterfeit products online for sale. The third count is a violation of Illinois’ Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act. The violations of this act in question are the aforementioned counts charged by Gillette to the defendants, including the creation, promotion, and sale of counterfeit products featuring established trademarks, which can potentially mislead customers.