Walgreens Sues Wegmans Over Its Logo

Discussion
Nov 03, 2010
George Anderson

By George Anderson

Both company banners begin with a "w" and end
with "s" without
an apostrophe. They also sell a number of the same products. That’s pretty
much where the comparisons begin and end when it comes to Walgreens and Wegmans.
That’s what makes the lawsuit that Walgreens recently filed against Wegmans
for trademark infringement over the grocery chain’s logo a bit of a head scratcher.

The
drugstore chain’s suit contends that Wegmans’ logo is likely to be confused
with its own and could lead consumers to believe
there is some affiliation between the two entities.

According to a Bloomberg report,
Walgreens is asking for "an accounting
of Wegmans’ profits and an award that can be attributed to the alleged infringement,
together with money damages, and awards of litigation costs and attorney fees.
Walgreen claims Wegman’s infringement is ‘flagrant and deliberate’ and asked
that the damages be tripled as a result."

Discussion Question: What is your reaction to Walgreens’ suit against Wegmans
over its logo?

[Editor’s Commentary] It strains the rational mind to think that consumers
who typically shop at these chains would ever confuse one for the other as
a result of a logo. Even giving Walgreens credit for its view, it’s hard to
see how the drugstore’s reputation could be anything but enhanced should a
mistake of affiliation between the two chains exist in the minds of some.

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21 Comments on "Walgreens Sues Wegmans Over Its Logo"


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David Livingston
Guest
10 years 6 months ago

I’m pretty sure that a consumer that walks into Wegmans will not have it confused with Walgreens and vice versa. Really now, if I was Walgreens, I would want consumers to think I was Wegmans. Heck, I still can’t tell the difference between Office Depot and Office Max. Or worse yet here in Wisconsin we have Farm and Fleet and Fleet Farm. But for sure there is no confusion between Walgreens and Wegmans.

Ben Sprecher
Guest
Ben Sprecher
10 years 6 months ago

“The drugstore chain’s suit contends that Wegmans’ logo is likely to be confused with its own and could lead consumers to believe there is some affiliation between the two entities.”

Honestly?

Clearly, no lawyer from Walgreens has ever been inside a Wegmans, because no consumer is ever likely to confuse the two.

On the other hand, perhaps this is a preemptive move…maybe Walgreens plans to octuple the size of all its locations, convert the stores into high-end grocery meccas, and hire a whole bunch of sushi chefs….

In Walgreens’ defense, though, they are doing a great job introducing more food into their stores, helping serve urban “food deserts,” and analyzing their customers behavior to serve them better. Too bad they are wasting time and money on this lawsuit.

Dr. Stephen Needel
Guest
10 years 6 months ago

I finally get to agree with George! To paraphrase Mencken, nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of shoppers. If they can’t figure out the difference between a Wegmans and a Walgreens, there is little hope and no sympathy. Walgreens should give it up on this one.

David Biernbaum
Guest
10 years 6 months ago

The “W’s” and the logos are similar no doubt, however, in my humble opinion, I don’t believe that Walgreens should worry.

Gene Detroyer
Guest
10 years 6 months ago

I guess there is someone in the legal department at Walgreens that says they had better do this. I am quite sure that the marketing people hope that shoppers will walk into a Walgreens thinking somehow it is associated with Wegmans. Everything about these retailers is different, including their relationships with their customers, with Wegmans miles ahead of Walgreens.

What surprises me is that someone at Wegmans did not suggest, “Gee, we don’t want to be associated with Walgreens!” Then everybody in the room laughed.

Susan Rider
Guest
Susan Rider
10 years 6 months ago

Really? Wow, there are some similarities but really? It will be interesting to see what the court says about this. I don’t think Walgreens has anything to worry about and this may be a “warning” strategy for others. Walgreens has spent a lot of money on branding.

Gregory Connolly
Guest
Gregory Connolly
10 years 6 months ago

Really makes me wonder what the focus is for senior management at Walgreens. You’re a merchant…its about customers, products, service, merchandising, operations. It certainly isn’t about wasting resources on lawsuits with no merit. Get the lawyers out of their 3-pieces and on to the floor to learn what business you’re really in. That will be retainer $ well spent.

Aaron Spann
Guest
Aaron Spann
10 years 6 months ago

Okay so as a marketing person recently shared with me: “there is nothing new under the sun.” Walgreens does their thing and Wegmans does theirs – very little crossover between the two.

This reminds me of the Eddie Murphy movie: “Coming to America” where McDonald’s was constantly barking at McDougal’s or whatever the name was. In that case it was obviously deliberate copying but I don’t think anyone will confuse a Wegmans with a Walgreens unless I really stretch my imagination.

Ed Rosenbaum
Guest
10 years 6 months ago

This suit is simply another way to line the pockets of the law firms who are obviously now laughing all the way to their bank accounts. Talk about frivolous, this is it. Why and how would anyone confuse the two? Certainly the customer knows where they are going. This is too silly to comment further.

Paul R. Schottmiller
Guest
Paul R. Schottmiller
10 years 6 months ago

Really? Brand protection is a serious subject but this seems a really, really big stretch in my opinion.

Gene Hoffman
Guest
Gene Hoffman
10 years 6 months ago

What’s the value of capital “W” with a curly Q? Not so much that Walmart will curve up its “W”. ‘Tis a another great lawsuit about nothing … but what’s new about that?

Mark Barnhouse
Guest
Mark Barnhouse
10 years 6 months ago

I’m surprised by the concurrence of opinion so far on this topic, because it seems perfectly obvious to me that some consumers WOULD assume there is some affiliation, given the new logo’s graphic similarities with that of Walgreens. Certainly, the posters here are correct in assuming shoppers know where they are–a drugstore is not a supermarket. But outside of the rarefied world of retail consultants and analysts that regularly read and contribute to RetailWire, most consumers don’t have a clue about corporate relationships.

A majority of people are probably unaware that Sears and Kmart share common ownership, so why would they not make a false connection between Wegmans and Walgreens? Of course, given the love consumers have for Wegmans, if I were Walgreens, I’d be happy if they made the connection.

Jeff Skoke
Guest
Jeff Skoke
10 years 6 months ago

‘historymystery’ has a valid comment. Though my initial instinct was to agree that this lawsuit is a waste of time and effort, surely Walgreens has the capacity to successfully multi-task. This won’t hamper their focus on brand and consumer strategy. Perhaps it becomes an issue if Wegmans starts running ads focused on its pharmacies and/or HMR offering. Might TV watchers get confused? Might they walk into Walgreens expecting a “Wegmans-like” experience? And then be frustrated? It could happen.

Either way, I believe this is more of a negative issue for Wegmans, especially as they expand geographically. Apart from lawsuit merit, their logo/identity is now tied way too closely to a lower-end, quasi-competitor and the Wegmans brand could suffer as a result.

Warren Thayer
Guest
10 years 6 months ago

On behalf of all people named Warren, I hereby announce a class action suit against all people named William and Walter. If your name is William or Walter, send me $100,000 immediately. Since Walgreens also starts with a W and has two syllables, the first of which is pronounced the same as the first syllable of Warren, notice is duly given that they are to cease and desist using the Walgreens name, and banner all their stores “Wegmans.” As compensation, they can send me $1 million, attorney’s fees and a shopping spree at Wegmans. You know, the grocery store. Right?

Donna Brockway
Guest
Donna Brockway
10 years 6 months ago

While I agree that no consumer is going to confuse Walgreens and Wegmans because of the logo, I feel strongly that Wegmans clearly realized theirs was very similar to Walgreens’, and therefore deliberately chose it. That, I think, was a mistake, and not very imaginative on their part. Of all the designs they could have chosen, surely they could have come up with something dissimilar to this one. Bad business decision, I think.

James Tenser
Guest
10 years 6 months ago

You go, Warren!

I stand firmly behind you in this. The grievance is blatantly obvious and the harm is actual, irreversible and I might add, heart-rending. Count on me to support your cause with expert testimony or an amicus brief as the matter requires. My rates begin at a very reasonable $3,200 per day.

While you are at it, be sure to file additional actions against those other flagrant two-letter misusers: WaWa, and Walmart.

WaWa should be sued for double damages, considering its double misuse of the golden syllable. And Walmart has propagated the damage world wide, which opens your course of action to numerous countries.

With such deep pockets to pursue and the prospect of decades of expensive future litigation, you should have no trouble retaining zealous intellectual property counsel to represent you in this. Just set your standards slightly below Banner & Witcoff Ltd., the firm reportedly representing Walgreens versus Wegmans, and you’re on your way.

After all you’ve got two initial letters to challenge in your case, while they only have one.

Donna P Read
Guest
Donna P Read
10 years 6 months ago

Why doesn’t Walgreens sue the Washington Nationals–their “W” looks more like Walgreens “W” than Wegmans?

When I saw the Washington Nationals I actually asked a baseball fan if they were owned by Walgreens.

Sid Raisch
Guest
Sid Raisch
10 years 6 months ago

There will always be some element of society that will make a false assumption and spread it to their own kind. A reasonable judge should throw this out because of the accusation that Wegmans did this intentionally and for gain. But if I were Wegmans, I would change the logo immediately. It is always amazing that companies who are big enough to know better and to afford it do not thoroughly test these things. I can’t imagine that they wouldn’t have learned this from a simple test.

Joanne Chung
Guest
Joanne Chung
10 years 6 months ago

Walgreens and Wegmens, eh? How about the infringement of the first three letters of Walgreens and its similarity to another major retailer that probably sells similar products (at lower prices everyday)? No?

Joseph Pecoraro
Guest
Joseph Pecoraro
10 years 6 months ago

Walgreens competes head-to-head with Wegmans everyday. I would guess that 95% of the SKUs found in a Walgreens can be found in the Wegmans less than two miles away.

The legal strategy is thus: put your competitor on the run and force them to channel corporate resources toward defending this accusation. Like it or not, this is a tactic right out of the tool bag of modern business operation.

I don’t think Walgreens expects to win, but they might get a glimpse at Wegmans’ corporate inner workings and profit structure. I dare say that Walgreens has a lot more money to throw at this than Wegmans does, and this will leave a stinging corporate memory at the checking account for Wegmans at a time when profits are already being stretched thin by the economy and Walmart’s steady march into the food niche.

David McClendon
Guest
David McClendon
10 years 5 months ago

I can’t imagine why Walgreens would be concerned with this at all. They used a fairly common font. Unless they have trademarked that font, I can’t see the point. But even the fonts are different as is the color.

It appears to me that Walgreens thinks that the majority of their customers are illiterate. If they believe that the majority of their customers can’t tell the difference between their logo and the other one then it would seem wise to come up with a new and very unusual logo that a small child would recognize.

I think this is a waste of money. It is also a waste of court time which could be used for something with much more merit than this.

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