Indianapolis, Indiana – Attorneys for Heartland Consumer Products LLC and TC Heartland LLC (collectively “Heartland”), of Carmel, Indiana, filed suit in the Southern District of Indiana in April of 2017 alleging that Defendants, DineEquity, Inc., Applebee’s Franchisor LLC, Applebee’s Restaurants LLC, Applebee’s Services, Inc., International House of Pancakes, LLC, IHOP Franchisor LLC, IHOP Franchising LLC, and IHOP Franchise Company, LLC all of Glendale, California; infringed its rights in some or all of United States Trademark Registration Nos.: 1544079, 3346910; 4172135, 4165028, 4301712, 4172136, 4165029,4122311, 4187229, 4202774, 4230392, 4238101, 4106164, 4664653, and 4744600 (SPLENDA IP”). In addition, at the time they filed their Complaint, HEARTLAND was the owner of the following applications for United States Trademark Registration Serial Nos. 86865337, 87012521, and 87010504, two of which are still “LIVE” trademarks. The suit settled in October 2018.
SPLENDA® is a low-calorie sweetener using sucralose that is a compound made from sugar. With the FDA approving sucralose for use in food products and food preparations in 1998, SPLENDA® was at the forefront of the market coming out in 1999 and launching in retail stores across the United States in September 2000. SPLENDA® is well-known and famous for their yellow-colored packaging which has been used continuously since the brand began using that color.
Plaintiffs claimed that the Defendants misappropriated the SPLENDA IP to deceive consumers and were actually providing consumers with a lower-quality product from China. For instance, some people working at IHOP and Applebee’s restaurants would orally affirm to customers that the yellow packets provided did in fact contain SPLENDA ® even though they did not. Plaintiffs alleged in their Complaint trademark infringement, false designation of origin, unfair competition, and trademark dilution. They were seeking preliminary and permanent injunctive relief, corrective advertising damages, Defendant’s profits, and costs among other damages. The Parties have settled outside of court as of October 2018.