Walgreens Sues Wegmans Over The Letter "W"

If you thought the Dodgers complaint against Brooklyn Burger was a stretch, here’s one that’s even more confounding. Drug store chain Walgreen’s has filed a lawsuit against regional grocery store chain Wegmans because of the “W” in its new logo.

The suit, filed in Virginia, says that the “W” in the Wegmans logo is too close to the style of the one in the Walgreens logo.

Except it’s not. At all.

A rep for Wegmans tells DemocratAndChronicle.com that the company is scratching its head about this, especially since the new Wegmans logo has been around for a couple of years and is actually just an old logo from the store’s early days:

We were surprised to learn of this lawsuit, since Walgreens did not contact us with any concerns prior to filing it…
Our script design has been in use since 2008, and was crafted to look like the logos our company used in the 1930s and 1940s. We don’t think that there is any real risk of customer confusion between the two companies.

walgreensnationals.jpg

If Walgreens is going to go after anyone about their precious “W,” it should be the Washington Nationals. Just look at the comparison to the left.

Walgreens sues Wegmans over the ‘W’ [Democrat & Chronicle]

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. Vanilla5 says:

    Ok, these people are starting to get ridiculous. The presence of a sweeping, cursive-looking serif does not mean that you have the same font or are trying to encroach!

    • redskull says:

      Don’t worry, according to Doc Brown, within 5 years we’ll have abolished all lawyers.

    • sleze69 says:

      I have to admit…I get them confused when I look at fliers to signs quickly, all I see is W******. Of course who owns the W seems silly to me.

  2. ElleAnn says:

    While they’re at it, they should sue over the e. But not the g, a, or n… which are clearly all distinct from the Walgreen’s font.

  3. Bativac says:

    This one, I’m not seeing. The Walgreens logo is pretty distinctive, even when it’s just the “W” — mainly because of the “loop” in the middle. It’s much stronger when it’s the whole word and you have the repeating loops (in the “e”s and the “l”).

    The “W” in Wegmans has no loop. It’s not even close, beyond being a script “W.”

    Sounds like someone at Walgreens saw Wegmans logo and said “We should SUE these guys!!!” without thinking it thru. Nobody else at corporate wanted to call the guy out so the lawsuit went forward…

    • Rommel says:

      The “W” in Wegmans has no loop. It’s not even close, beyond being a script “W.”

      Of course not! The front tail in Wegman’s is lower than Walgreens. It has not loop, the only thing the same is the end tail, and that can be tacked on to any letter!

    • classic10 says:

      I think they are suing just because of the curved ascendant on the W that looks exactly the same. But, It is still a big stretch.

  4. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    Chris, you seem to not have noticed that in the article you linked to, the author updated to say that MLB contested the Brooklyn Burger, not the Dodgers themselves. Just FYI.

  5. minjche says:

    As an avid Wegman’s shopper (at least while I’m in PA), I have to say the net result of this lawsuit is that I’ll be less inclined to shop at Walgreens now.

  6. Scurvythepirate says:

    Ah Wegmans. One of the reasons I love living in WNY.

    • hotdogsunrise says:

      Agreed, but replace “W” with “C”. Good ol’ CNY. And I’ve never understood why Albany isn’t ENY. Wouldn’t that make sense? Nope. Just upstate New York. Weird…

      • DerangedHermit says:

        You’re all “up there” to the people in NYC and LI.

        PS: trade you a lot of Stop & Shops, Pathmark and Waldbaums for a Wegmans

    • kriswone says:

      WNY, huh. Do you say soda or pop when referring to soda pop?

      Soda seems and sounds more logical. who would want to drink pop?

      • Rocket says:

        I live in Rochester. I say soda, but some of my friends say pop. I started saying soda pop, to make everyone happy.

        • gman863 says:

          My family is originally from Rochester. When I moved to Indiana at the age of eight, I’d ask for “pop” and people would think I was looking for my dad.

          It’s a regional thing. I had to go back to “soda” so people didn’t think I was speaking a foreign language.

      • gqcarrick says:

        It’s definitely Pop. Even Wegmans brand is WPOP, not WSODA.

  7. c!tizen says:

    You knowt, now that I look a little closer the “c” in consumerist looks an awful lot like the “c” in c!tizen.

  8. He says:

    The Nats logo is from the Senators originally. Not sure when they started using it or if it was only the second version of the Senators.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      IIRC, they started using the loopy W Nats logo pretty much right away.

    • MikeM_inMD says:

      Also, if you look at the bottom line of the Ws, the Senators/Nationals logo is ALWAYS written with a rising slant, while the Walgreens W is always written flat.

  9. sir_eccles says:

    Except the Washington nationals logo probably won’t be registered in the same class as the Walgreens logo. It all comes down to likelihood of customer confusion. Same or similar logo in the same or similar field could equal confusion. Add in to that the fact that a trademark holder must defend the trademark for each and every time they see a potential infringement otherwise they risk losing the mark.

    If journalists knew something about IP law before spouting off this wouldn’t be such a problem.

    • Gulliver says:

      Except they do not risk losing it if it is NOT EVEN CLOSE. You do not have to defend your logo if it is not reasonable to confuse it. Your argument would mean that Target should sue Walgreens for the uuse of the color red in its logo. People may become confused.

    • theduckay says:

      Apparently your knowledge of IP has replaced your knowledge of common sense.

      • ma1234 says:

        Apparently you don’t have any common sense, because common sense in trademark protection means file a lawsuit.

        Walgreen’s probably expects to – and likely will – lose. But all they have to do is sue, and they’ve done what trademark law requires them to do.

        • Gulliver says:

          Thats just lawyer stupid talk and you know it. Filing a case you EXPECT TO LOSE is NOT what the courts are for.
          Your argument seems to be if a company allows the use of their trademark to become generic. The only type of cases like this are terms like Kleenex, aspirin, thermos, etc, There is absolutely no evidence of that here. I would suggest you show any case law where a trademark was lost due to NOT suing, and what the statute says regarding it.

  10. guspaz says:

    Pfft. That logo isn’t nearly as good as their old one:

    http://mopupduty.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/MontrealExpos2.png

  11. Papa Midnight says:

    Wow, and I thought Monster was bad.

  12. adlauren says:

    When I moved to DC for my internship this last summer I remember one of the first things I thought was something along the lines of “damn these people really love Walgreens”.

  13. Macgyver says:

    These stupid ass lawsuits are getting way out of hand these days.

  14. captadam says:

    Oh my god. Walgreens and Wegmans both start with “w,” end with “s,” and have a “g” in the middle. I am very, very confused. Time for more lawsuits.

  15. thesalad says:

    Maybe everyone will stop using serif fonts.. I will be happy.
    Anyways thsi is total BS.. companies need to focus on keeping customers nto makign insane demands like this.

  16. nffcnnr says:

    Wegmans should put Weezer wings on their “w”.
    http://www.noeviltwin.com/images/WeezerW.jpg

  17. WiglyWorm must cease and decist says:

    The problem is we’re dealing with a Trademark suit here. Companies are required to protect their Trademarks judiciously, or else they may lose the ability to protect it later on.

    Some companies, such as Monster Cable use it as a business model. Some, such as UPS over the color brown #64417, or in this case Walgreens over the letter W do it because they must or risk losing their Mark.

    At least, that’s my opinion until I see Walgreens begin a pattern like Monster has.

    • Baccus83 says:

      I wish we could vote comments up here – because yours is the most insightful thing here. Nobody seems to realize that companies obligated to protect their trademarks in all cases, lest they lose their ability to protect themselves in the future. So while this may seem like (and probably is) a ridiculous lawsuit, Walgreens has little choice in the matter. Because if somebody down the line actually DOES rip off the Walgreens logo, the fact that they didn’t protect themselves before would be used against them. Walgreens probably expects to lose this case, but they had to defend their trademark.

      • gman863 says:

        While it is possible to copyright a font style (think of the one used for “Coca-Cola”) or color (UPS, John Deere), courts have drawn the line of unreasonable lawsuits such as this.

        First, Wegmans is reviving an old logo. Presuming they kept an active copyright on it all these years, the statute of limitations alone could kill Walgreens’ suit.

        Second, a plaintiff must usually prove a similar media (font, color, etc.) used by the defendant has or would result in damages due to lost sales, reputation or customer confusion. My personal take is that a “W” written in a different script font and color would not meet this burden of proof. As for the issue of customer confusion, both are familiar decades old companies in the markets they serve: How in the hell is someone going to confuse a 10,000 square foot drug store with a 70,000+ sf mega market?

        Finally, there’s common sense – is a name, design or other aspect been legally guarded by the plaintiff in the past? Harley-Davidson has been schooled on this by the courts in recent years. Although Harley sucessfully defended the use of the actual Bar-and-Shield logo with the words “Harley-Davidson” in it; I believe the generic Bar-and-Shield outline was turned down by the courts as protected. In addition, Harley attempted to copyright the sound of their V-Twin engine design (also called the “potato-potato” sound). The last I heard on this, the sound was ruled public domain since the actual patents on building an engine making the sound had expired long ago.

        If Walgreens ever had the opportunity to sue over confusion, they missed it about 40 years ago. Hmmm. What other retailer established in the 1960s starts with “Wal-”?

        • gman863 says:

          Correction:

          I believe the generic Bar-and-Shield outline was turned down by the courts as not protected.

  18. coffeeculture says:

    I love Wegman’s….one of my best “bad product” customer service experiences came from them (cliff notes: had nasty tasting fish, didn’t know it was the tail end of sockeye season….they hooked it up with a replacement fish at no cost + a 5min tutorial on sockeye salmon).

  19. Bruce W says:

    Why not sue everyone whose name starts with a “W”… oops that would include me!

    This is asinine! They must have had a blind person determine that the W’s were the same. However, even it were the same (which of course we all know it is not) they can not claim ownership of a font (unless they designed it and copyrighted it).

    This is a case of them having too many lawyers with nothing worth while to do!

  20. galm666 says:

    WATCH OUT. POTENTIALLY SIMILAR TYPOGRAPHY! LAWSUIT TIME, GO!

  21. JollyJumjuck says:

    Since Walgreens owns the letter “W”, or at least the capital version, we must now substitute double V’s for it. So, for instance, I can write, “Walgreens, why?” or “VVhy, Walgreens?” without infringing upon their trademark.

    Think of the implications:

    VVarsaw, VVembley Stadium, VVorld of VVarcraft…

  22. krom says:

    This reminds me of the time I was amazed to see Sarah Palin wearing a New England Patriots sweatshirt… except it wasn’t, it was a Wasilla High School Patriots shirt. The high school in the town was blatantly plagiarizing the NFL team’s logo, and the former mayor of that town cum modern champion of corporatist values was proudly wearing a copyright infringement!

    The school soon changed their sport team’s logo, apparently.

    I guess before Sarah came along, Alaskans figured their remoteness meant they could get away with almost anything. But now, thanks to her, people notice.

  23. sgtyukon says:

    Walgreen’s only wishes it was being confused with Wegman’s

  24. PLATTWORX says:

    “We were surprised to learn of this lawsuit, since Walgreens did not contact us with any concerns prior to filing it…”

    HUH? A lawsuit filed amd not preceeded by a cease and desist?

    There is no way on Earth the public would be confused thinking Walgreen’s and Wegman’s were the same thing.. which is usally the burdon of proof in these things.

  25. kcarlson says:

    My master plan is to copyright the entire alphabet and then sue EVERYBODY…

  26. Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

    Whoa! Am I the only one that read that headline as
    Walgreens Sues Walgreens Over The Letter “W”

    It’s like corporate identical twins. Both names start with a ‘W’ and end with ‘ns’ clearly a fiendish plot. As a consumer, I am sooooo confused!

  27. ma1234 says:

    Once again, Consumerist demonstrates how it is entirely ignorant of trademark and copyright laws, which, ironically, are designed to protect the consumer. If you don’t like it, blame the law and the fact that Walgreen’s has to pursue this lawsuit or risk losing its trademark. It’s not Walgreen’s fault.

    • LandruBek says:

      Malarkey. I know you have to defend a trademark when it is being infringed, but this is not infringement. The W’s don’t look like each other any more than any other unrelated script W’s.

      In fact if you compare them, they look like cursive class “do-and-don’t” examples: “Don’t make a loop in the middle of your i’s, t’s, or W’s. Do keep the middles closed.”

      • psm321 says:

        Exactly. That whiny “they have to defend it” excuse that corporate trolls use is just plain stupid. You only have to defend a trademark to keep it if it is in fact being infringed. Monster Mini-golf and Monster Transmission were never infringing Monster Cable’s trademark, and Wegmans isn’t infringing here. Disclaimer: IANAL (but I do pretend to be one)

  28. Duckula22 says:

    CEO: Have we sued anybody lately?
    Legal Dept. Head: No, we have not.
    CEO: Let’s get cracking!

  29. Rachacha says:

    Kind of funny, especially as every time my kids see a Walgreens they say “Look a Wegmans” (of course they are joking as Wegmans is like a Religion in my family, and the kids know that we bow down before our god Danny (and Robert may he R.I.P). After moving away from Upstate NY (and having worked for Wegmans) I am finally glad to see that Wegmans is now close enough to me for weekly shopping in MD and I am moving to a new home that has a Wegmans 1 mile away!

    The trademark system is broken. Wegmans filed a trademark, and that mark was published for public opposition. I have to think that no one commented. Sorry Walgreens, you snooze you lose.

  30. bioflava says:

    The color green should sue Walgreens. Or maybe collard greens.

  31. daveSH says:

    I believe that what really torques Walgreens is that Wegmans also is in the Pharmacy business (and note that Walgreens tries to be in the grocery business) and just plain runs circles around Walgreens.

    Compare prices: Wegmans is lower
    Compare quality: Wegmans is better (really better than anyone)
    Compare Customer Satisfaction: Wegmans is considered the best supermarket in the country.
    Compare Employee Satisfaction: Wegmans is consistently rated at the top of “Best Company’s To Work For”

    Walgreens built a store in my town across the street from a Wegmans a year ago. It is odd that they waited till now to complain.

    • Rachacha says:

      Wegmans just recently re-introduced their new (very very old) logo earlier this year. I believe that they have been using the stylized font on certain products or some time, but this year they began using it on everything, including the sign on the front of their new stores. Their last logo (computer looking font) I believe had been in use since the early 1980s, and before that Wegmans was using a “W” in a blue starburst in the 1970s.

  32. Quake 'n' Shake says:

    We don’t think that there is any real risk of customer confusion between the two companies.

    Wegmans: Awesome supermarket chain, found primarily in the Northeast. Regularly a top rated chain by Consumer Reports

    Walgreens: Crappy-ass drug store chain located nation wide.

    Yeah, I’d say Wegmans’ story checks out.

  33. Quake 'n' Shake says:

    We don’t think that there is any real risk of customer confusion between the two companies.

    Wegmans: Awesome supermarket chain, found primarily in the Northeast. Regularly a top rated chain by Consumer Reports

    Walgreens: Crappy-ass drug store chain located nation wide.

    Yeah, I’d say Wegmans’ story checks out.

    • Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

      Does Wegmans have receipt-checkers?

      • Rachacha says:

        Nope. Wegmans actually treats its customers like, well Valued Customers. We visited the new Wegmans store near our house and inside they have a sit down restaurant (with real menus). My wife and I ordered our meal with a side of green beans. Unfortunately, the beans were not done quite to our liking (they were cooked, but not as much as we prefer). We at a few and left the rest on our plate. The waitress came over and asked how everything was, we casually commented that the beans were not cooked as much as we prefer, but no big deal. Without hesitation, the waitress apologized, and offered us a free desert. We declined saying that we were not complaining, it was just a personal preference. When the waitress came back, she informed us that she did not charge us for our sodas to make up for the green beans not cooked to our liking.

        Couple things to note here…1, the STAFF is empowered by management to take reasonable steps to keep the customer happy. The waitress was empowered to give us free stuff to keep us happy (we would have been happy not getting anything for free). 2. The waitresses in the restaurant do not receive tips. The bill has a statement to simply thank the staff if they did a good job.

  34. mbz32190 says:

    Walgreens is just pissed that the health and beauty items at Wegmans are 1/2 of what they charge.

    And while I don’t think these W’s look the same, Wegmans does use a different W on their brand of 2 liters that could be confused with walgreens own food products (they both have a similar white w on a red circle kind-of-thing).

    • The Wyrm says:

      Scary thought
      If copyright protection is based on “Likelihood of consumer confusion”, and you can show that your consumers are absolute idiots who think anything with cursive is your company… what then?

      It is disturbing that the strength of copyright law for name brands is based on the sliding scale of ‘demonstrated public intellect’.

  35. TouchMyMonkey says:

    So I guess this will go down to whose logo is older. My money’s on Walgreen’s. Still, if they haven’t sued by now – it’s been like 80 years – can you claim corporate indifference or something?

  36. MPD01605 says:

    Walt Disney World should go after Walgreen’s. /s

  37. darcmosch says:

    You know what? They are right. Those “W’s” look awfully similar…

  38. Weekilter says:

    Well, Walgreens misspells their name anyway. It should be Walgreen’s since it was named for the founder Charles Walgreen, Sr. Unless you’ve never learned how to use apostrophes or know how to make something possessive you’ve got no cause to be so stupid.

  39. sopmodm14 says:

    wow, if you superimpose it, its different

    walgreens made itself a laughingstock, lol

  40. Levk says:

    OMG this is getting dumb just because you loosing money dun mean you should sue other companies having a hard time to get money. Those two been around for years and just now they starting to get bothered? Really? that is just beyond dumb Not like anyone gonna confuse a walgreens for a wegmans I would love to meet the person that does because they need shock treatment.

  41. daveSH says:

    According to the Democrat & Chronicle:
    “Walgreens argues that the alleged infringement is “detrimental to (Walgreen’s) goodwill and reputation,” and has asked the court for a trial by jury.”

    Walgreen’s should hope that even a small smidgen of Wegmans “goodwill and reputation” will rub off on them. Virginia is now familiar with Wegmans – it is impossible to believe that a jury there could find that this similarity could be “detremental to (Walgreen’s) goodwill and reputation.

    If it was based on that, Wegmans should be suing Walgreens!

  42. catnapped says:

    Me thinks Walgreen’s is picking on the WRONG target here. If Wegmans laywers don’t take care of this nuisance certainly their customers/fans will.

  43. AEN says:

    Now it’s clear to me why my grocery shopping at Walgreens always turned out to be so unsatisfying.

  44. DerangedHermit says:

    In an semi-unrelated matter, I want Wegmans on LI. For people that go crazy over stuff like Whole Foods and Fairway, people would LOVE Wegmans.

  45. phil28 says:

    How absurd. I’ll now always associate Walgreen’s logo with stupidity. Apparently their lawyers are having a slow month.

  46. wolfman says:

    Walgreens has sunk to a all knew low here, maybe they need to go into the vision care industry to fix their eyes. i was a faithful Walgreens consumer for years, till i was fed up with fighting every month over my prescriptions. Shame on you Walgreens, bullying does not only apply to kids.

  47. gqcarrick says:

    This is just a horrible lawsuit. Wegmans is a grocery store, Walgreens is a Drug Store. Until Wallgreens becomes a supermarket, this should be dismissed.