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Zoetis, Perrigo settle trademark dispute out of court

BY Friday, June 17, 2016 12:16pm

KALAMAZOO — A trademark lawsuit involving two drug companies in West Michigan has been settled out of court, according to documents filed yesterday in federal court.

In a case filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan in Kalamazoo, Zoetis Services LLC alleged Perrigo Co. plc and its Sergeant’s Pet Care Products Inc. division planned to introduce an over-the-counter product with similar name, branding and use as one of its trademarked veterinary vaccines.

Art Shannon, vice president of investor relations and global communications for Perrigo, declined comment on the case, saying only that the settlement was confidential.

The Florham Park, N.J.-based Zoetis (NYSE: ZTS), the former animal health division of Pfizer Inc. with major operations in Kalamazoo and Richland that spun off into an independent company in 2013, said Perrigo’s Sentry VantaGuard 2 flea treatment was too close to its Vanguard and Vanguard Plus trademarks. Zoetis’ canine vaccine products had been in existence since 1978 and 1999, respectively.

Meanwhile, the Dublin, Ireland-based Perrigo (NYSE: PRGO), which maintains its headquarters in Allegan, first announced its products in a press release on March 16.

Zoetis Chief Counsel for Global Trademarks Jane Ungaro sent a letter to Perrigo alleging infringement on April 6.

Perrigo Senior Counsel Vincent Egolf responded on April 21, saying that the company believed its products would cause “no actual or potential consumer confusion.”

“That said, Perrigo believes that Zoetis’ concerns can be potentially resolved through negotiation, not litigation. Perrigo believes that a solution that avoids costly and protracted litigation would be a mutually beneficial outcome,” Egolf wrote.

In filing the lawsuit on May 10, Zoetis alleged Perrigo’s use of a “confusingly similar” name was an attempt “to trade off the goodwill that Zoetis has developed” with its products. The company requested the court force Perrigo to stop using the VantaGuard 2 mark, recall and destroy all products with that name, give up all profits from the sale of the products, pay for its attorney fees and be assessed damages.

However, in a filing on June 16, Judge Paul Maloney wrote that Zoetis’ attorneys had notified the court that the two parties had come to an agreement to settle the case. Closing documents are due by July 14.

A search of Sergeant’s websites found no mention of product with the name VantaGuard.

Perrigo acquired the assets of Sergeant’s Pet Care Products Inc. in October 2012 in a $285 million deal that moved Perrigo into the animal health business. Perrigo followed up that deal with the 2013 acquisition of Velcera Inc., a Yardley, Pa.-based pet care company, for about $160 million in cash.

MiBiz Senior Writer Mark Sanchez contributed to this report

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