It’s no big secret that big candy companies like to badmouth sugar farmers for being “protectionist.”
Even though America is the world’s biggest sugar importer, the market is never quite open enough for the candy man’s liking. Heavily subsidized sugar grown by less efficient foreign countries with substandard labor, environmental, and safety standards should flow freely through America, even if it bankrupts rural businesses and farms, they contend.
Heck, the confectioner lobby has even bashed sugar producers for asking that U.S. laws be enforced to stop Mexico from dumping subsidized sugar onto the U.S. market and harming U.S. sugar producers and taxpayers.
That criticism came even after it was uncovered that one of the lobby’s biggest forces, Hershey, brought a similar unfair trade case against European pasta makers years ago on behalf of its pasta business.
Now press reports have emerged about Hershey again looking to use U.S. laws – this time intellectual property protection laws – to stop unfair competition from Europe. According to a report byFOX News:
The chocolate giant filed a trademark infringement suit in a Pennsylvania court against LBB Imports, which brings British candy to the U.S., claiming that the imports too closely resemble candies produced by Hershey’s.Court documents state that the “orange wrappers on British Toffee Crisp candies are too similar to wrappers on Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups” and “England’s Yorkie chocolate bars should also be forbidden, because they are too similar in name to Hershey’s York Peppermint Patties,” reports DNA Info…
Jeff Beckman, a spokesman for Hershey’s said that as news of the lawsuit broke, LBB has already agreed to stop importing British Cadbury products.
“It is important for Hershey to protect its trademark rights and to prevent consumers from being confused or misled when they see a product name or product package that is confusingly similar to a Hershey name or trade dress,” Beckman said.
“Hershey has always vigorously protected its brands and will continue to do so whenever we believe that others have infringed on these valuable intellectual assets.”
The bottom line: Hershey, confectioners, and all U.S. companies have a right to ask that U.S. laws be enforced to guard their intellectual property rights. Just like all companies have a right to use U.S. law to prevent injury from unfair trading practices.
It is not okay for foreign competitors to infringe on U.S. brands, just like it’s not okay for foreign governments to heavily subsidize and dump injurious exports, manipulate markets, and sidestep international trade rules to put U.S. companies out of business. That’s not how free trade is supposed to work.
So why do confectioners continue to criticize sugar producers for asking that U.S. law be enforced, just as its own industry has done time and time again? Sounds like the pot calling the kettle “protectionist.”