Splenda® Manufacturer Files Trademark Suit Against Dunkin’ Donuts
Heartland Consumer Products, producer of sucralose-based sweetener Splenda®, has filed a lawsuit against Dunkin’ Brands, Inc. and its franchisees alleging the restaurant chain misleads its customers into believing it carries Splenda® while providing a different sweetener made in China. Heartland Consumer Prods. v. Dunkin’ Brands, Inc., No. 16-3045 (S.D. Ind., Indianapolis Div., filed November 7, 2016).
According to the complaint, Dunkin regularly purchased Splenda® from Heartland until April 2016, when it switched to a different sucralose sweetener. Heartland asserts that Dunkin employees continue to tell customers that the sweetener is Splenda even though the new sweetener is a “Chinese-made, off-brand sucralose.” Heartland further argues that Dunkin appropriated its “Sweet Swaps” program by creating a Dunkin-branded “Smart Swaps” program. The complaint asserts that Heartland received multiple reports of consumer confusion, including one customer who reported that a Dunkin employee said Dunkin had “bought out Splenda.” For allegations of trademark infringement, dilution, false designation of origin and unfair competition, Heartland seeks a corrective advertising campaign, an injunction and damages.