Breath mint companies duke it out in court, audience watches with bated (bad) breath
You may have noticed that, unlike specialty breath freshening products, many common breath mints look alike, from their packaging down to the shape and taste of the mint itself. Well, the companies that make these little tablets are well aware of this, and they have gone to court over the similarities at least once.
In 1973, The United States Second Circuit Court of Appeals heard a rather unusual case, titled Beech-Nut, Inc. v. Warner Lambert Company. The lead circuit jurist, one Judge Moore, summarized the situation in his written decision, which is heavily seasoned with sarcasm:
"This case involves a 'struggle between corporate titans,' in their efforts to create and market cylindrically packaged confections having as their purpose the purification of breath," Moore wrote.
Basically, one breath mint maker felt that their products looked eerily similar to another when sitting on the shelf. They decided to sue. The trial, which lasted six months, was ultimately a misfire, with the two products deemed to look different enough.
While the decision noted that the two companies controlled an estimated 98 percent of the breath mint market at the time, today's consumer has far more choices. For those with halitosis, springing for a specialty breath freshening mint - one that neutralizes odor - may be better than settling for the common kind.