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Dairy Queen lawsuit gets frosty reception

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The latest in what seems like a blizzard of trademark infringement lawsuits involves just that—a blizzard.

Or actually, the Blizzard, a soft-serve ice cream product sold by International Dairy Queen Inc., a unit of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

Dairy Queen recently sought a preliminary injunction against Downey, Calif.-based Yogubliz Inc. According to published reports, Dairy Queen asked a Los Angeles federal judge to block Yogubliz Inc. from selling its Blizz Frozen Yogurt and Blizzberry products.

Dairy Queen argued that Yogubliz's products' names were too similar to the Blizzard and could confuse customers.

However, U.S. District R. Gary Klausner disagreed. While Blizz and Blizzard “do sound alike,” Dairy Queen is unlikely to prevail over its rival on the merits of any claims, including trademark infringement and unfair competition, the judge ruled.

“Products often are marketed under names that are nonsense or invented words,” Reuters quoted Judge Klausner as writing. “Thus, like Pez, Pringles or a host of other brand names, it is unclear that Blizz has any independent meaning aside from the product it is attached to.”

Sweet words, no doubt, to Yogubliz, but certainly cold comfort to Dairy Queen. In an e-mail, a Dairy Queen spokesman said, “We certainly don't agree with Judge Klausner's decision”and “will continue to take steps to protect our valued trademarks.”