Wrigley and Cannabis Company Settle Over Trademark: A Sweet Resolution for the Skittles Maker

A recent legal dispute between Wrigley, the renowned confectionery giant, and Terphogz LLC, a cannabis industry player, has been finally resolved. This case centred around the alleged trademark infringement by Terphogz, who marketed products under the "ZKITTLEZ" brand. The claimant, Wrigley, argued that the name bore too much resemblance to its popular candy—Skittles, thereby causing confusion and diluting their trademark.

The Sweet Encounter

It was in the Chicago federal court that Wrigley, a subsidiary of Mars Wrigley, and Terphogz inked their proposed permanent injunction. The agreement stipulated that Terphogz would refrain from using the names Skittles, Zkittlez, or anything similar for their cannabis-related sales. This decision marked the end of a bitter legal tussle between the candy maker and the cannabis company.

"Wrigley had accused Terphogz of undermining nearly 50 years of goodwill generated by the Skittles brand with its 'freewheeling use' of Skittles marks to sell cannabis, drug paraphernalia and other merchandise."

Terphogz, a Mendocino-based company, had earlier asserted that it did not directly sell cannabis. Instead, it merely licensed its intellectual property rights to other firms that sold cannabis legally. Regardless, the court found their argument unconvincing.

The Taste of Settlement

Part of the settlement also required Terphogz to stop using slogans such as "Taste the Z Train" and "Taste the Strain Bro." Wrigley argued that these slogans were too similar to the Skittles' long-standing catchphrase—"Taste the Rainbow." Furthermore, Terphogz agreed to relinquish the domain name zkittlez.com. However, they were permitted to continue using the letter "Z", provided it did not lead to any confusion among the public.

Even though this settlement has been agreed upon by both parties, it still requires court approval. As of now, both Wrigley and Terphogz have refrained from commenting on the issue.

The Bitter Aftertaste

This is not the first time that Wrigley has had to defend its brands. In the past, the company has filed lawsuits alleging trademark infringements related to other brands, including Life Savers and Starburst. The crux of these lawsuits has always been the same—protection of its renowned trademarks from being usurped unlawfully by others.

In the case of Skittles and Zkittlez, Wrigley believed that its goodwill built over nearly half a century was jeopardised by the freewheeling use of its Skittles marks. The candy maker contended that their colourful rainbow theme, a characteristic feature of Skittles, was also carried over by some merchandise of Terphogz.

"Wrigley is a Chicago-based unit of privately-held Mars Wrigley."

The Legal Rainbow

The cannabis industry, although relatively new, has had its share of legal battles over trademark infringements. Given the popularity of certain brands and the associated goodwill, it is no surprise that such disputes arise frequently. It is even more prominent in the cannabis industry, where the counterculture has often led to a freewheeling use of existing trademarks.

The case between Wrigley and Terphogz is a classic example of such a conflict. The lawsuit brought to light the dangers of using existing brand names, especially those associated with children's products, to identify marijuana strains. This practice not only raises legal issues but also poses significant risks to child safety.

The Green Strain

The cannabis industry is experiencing a phase of tremendous growth. However, this growth has also brought with it several challenges. One of the main issues being the increasing commercial liability arising from trademark infringements. This has forced many operators to let go of problematic marks over the years.

"Counterculture creators have long engaged in trademark infringement. But in now-legal weed, it's a growing commercial liability."

Despite the legal ramifications, the cannabis industry continues to thrive. In fact, it is expected to grow even further, perhaps even surpassing the confectionery industry in terms of revenue. However, it is clear that the industry must learn to navigate the legal complexities of trademark laws if it is to continue its upward trajectory.

The Sweet Victory

The settlement between Wrigley and Terphogz marks a significant victory for the confectionery giant. It sets a precedent for other similar cases, thereby ensuring that the rights of trademark owners are protected. Furthermore, it serves as a deterrent for other companies that might be contemplating the freewheeling use of established trademarks.

In conclusion, this case serves as a reminder of the complexities involved in navigating the legal landscape of trademark laws. It highlights the need for companies, especially those in emerging industries like cannabis, to be vigilant about their branding practices. Most importantly, it underscores the importance of respecting the intellectual property rights of others.


The legal tussle between Wrigley and Terphogz may have ended, but the lessons it imparted will continue to resonate within the cannabis and confectionery industries for years to come. It is a stark reminder of the importance of respecting trademarks and the potential consequences of disregarding them. As the cannabis industry continues to grow, one can only hope that it takes these lessons to heart and evolves into a more responsible and law-abiding sector.


  1. Reuters
  2. Benzinga
  3. Leafly