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Battery bunny dispute re-energized

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In the words of the marketing slogan, a trademark dispute between Energizer Holdings Inc. and Duracell Inc. over a pink bunny mascot “just keeps going and going.”

According to Reuters, in the U.S. District Court in St. Louis last week, Judge Carol Jackson ruled that Duracell must face claims that its bunny mascot confuses customers and harms Energizer, which has used a bunny mascot on its packaging since 1989.

Energizer's pink rabbit originally was a parody of a bunny used in Duracell advertisements. The Duracell bunny still is used in Europe and Australia but is not part of Duracell's branding in the United States.

In 1992, Duracell and Energizer struck an agreement limiting Duracell's usage of the bunny in marketing in the United States and Canada.

Duracell claimed that Energizer's lawsuit was a “thinly veiled” attempt to renegotiate that agreement, and said that it should not be liable if distributors of its batteries lawfully send bunny-branded packages to the United States.

The judge, however, said that those assertions were not a proper basis for dismissing Energizer's suit.

And so, much like the claims both manufacturers make about their batteries, there's still life in this dispute.