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.

 

Issue 622

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For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.

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