A federal judge in St. Paul is hearing arguments this week in a lawsuit by International Dairy Queen Inc. that accuses a Massachusetts company of wrongfully using the "Blizzard" name for bottled spring water and asks for damages.
Dairy Queen, based in Bloomington, is suing W.B. Mason Co. of Brockton, Mass., alleging its bottled spring water bearing the Blizzard name is a trademark infringement and is unfair competition.
U.S. District Court Judge Susan Richard Nelson is overseeing the trial, which is expected to run through Thursday and continue next month on Nov. 8 in St. Paul.
Trademarks for Dairy Queen's Blizzard date back to 1946, according to the lawsuit. The soft serve ice cream blended with fruit, nuts, candies or other flavorings is required at all locations and the company notes that its stores also sell water.
The lawsuit asks that the Blizzard spring water be removed from store shelves, that all related marketing materials be destroyed, and is seeking unspecified damages that include profit from the spring water sales.
W.B. Mason bills itself as the second largest privately-owned workplace products dealer in the U.S. and sells some food and beverage items. In 2003, W.B. Mason launched its Blizzard brand for white copy paper and expanded use in 2010 to spring water, court records say.
Attorneys for W.B. Mason asked for a trial and dismissal of the lawsuit's counts with prejudice and say in court documents that they intend to prove that no likelihood of confusion exists and that Dairy Queen has not been able to show even one instance of actual confusion after 188 million sales of "allegedly infringing bottles of water."
They allege that Dairy Queen only became aware of the Blizzard spring water in 2017 after W.B. Mason had filed trademark applications with the federal government.
International Dairy Queen Inc., a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., is the parent company of American Dairy Queen Corp. and Dairy Queen Canada Inc. The company and its units service a system of more than 7,000 locations.