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Sherwin-Williams Suit Brushes Wooster

Thursday, December 20, 2012

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Two of the nation's biggest and oldest paint industry names are locked in litigation over copycat accusations on paint-brush packaging.

The Sherwin-Williams Company has filed suit against Wooster Brush Company, saying the Wooster, OH-based manufacturer imitated the paint maker's paintbrush packaging.

Cleveland-based Sherwin-Williams alleges that Wooster's packaging is infringing upon the way Sherwin-Williams packages brushes sold under the Purdy brand, according to the lawsuit filed Dec. 14 in U.S. District Court in Cleveland.

The company also claims that packaging on Wooster's roller covers and even its slogan are knockoffs of  Sherwin-Williams' own.


The Sherwin-Williams Company says that  Wooster Brush's new packaging closely resembles the Purdy-branded paint brush dress.

Representatives from the companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the lawsuit. Sherwin-Williams filed its complaint specifically alleging trade-dress infringement, deceptive trade practices, and unfair competition.

Sherwin-Williams seeks unspecified monetary damages, payment for all profits derived from the alleged infringement, and an order that Wooster halt infringement, the complaint says.

'Trade Dress' at Issue

Sherwin-Williams says it has used a particular "brush keeper" packaging for Purdy-branded paint brushes since 2010, according to the court documents. (Sherwin-Williams purchased the privately held Purdy paint brush maker Paint Sundry Brands Corp. in 2004.)

The packaging features a "golden yellow background, a small, partial image of the American flag at the top center of the brush keeper, and a thick horizontal band of color" that indicates the particular type of brush. For example, a brown horizontal mark denotes a nylon/polyester blended brush.

"Sherwin-Williams' Brush Keeper Trade Dress is unique in the painting tool industry and constitutes an inherently distinctive trade dress," according to the complaint.

In 2012, Wooster introduced new packaging for its "Wooster Pro" brushes sold at The Home Depot and other retail stores. That revamp, Sherwin-Williams alleges, closely imitates its trade dress.

Home Depot
Ildar Sagdejev / Wikimedia Commons

The Home Depot displays Sherwin-Williams and Wooster Brush packages side by side in some displays, confusing consumers, the suit says.

Wooster's new packaging features a "golden yellow background, a small partial image of the American flag at the top center of the brush keeper as well as a horizontal band of color," Sherwin-Williams alleges. The color code system used by Wooster is identitical to the one Sherwin-Williams has used since 2000, the complaint says.

Sherwin-Williams says hundreds of millions of dollars of paint brushes with the particular packaging and colors have been sold.

Wooster changed its packaging with "full knowledge of Sherwin-Williams' prior use of, and with the bad faith intent to trade off of, Sherwin-Williams' goodwill," according to Sherwin-Williams.

Displays, Rollers

The Home Depot displays the paint applicators side by side in some displays, and consumers are likely to confuse the two packages, the complaint says.

Wooster's packaging for its brush roller covers is also allegedly similar to Sherwin-Williams' own, according to the complaint. Sherwin-Williams claim the color combination used on Wooster Pro rollers resemble the color combination for its Purdy Golden Eagle and Purdy White Dove roller covers.

Slogan Targeted

In addition, Sherwin-Williams claims the slogan used by Wooster is similar to one that Sherwin-Williams used in connection with its Purdy paint brushes between 1998 and 2006, the complaint says.

Purdy Purdy

Sherwin-Williams, longtie owner of the Purdy brand, does not like Wooster Brush's slogan.

The company used, "If it's worth painting, it's worth a Purdy."

"Wooster currently uses the slogan, 'If it's worth painting, it's worth Wooster' on its packaging for paint brushes bearing the Infringing Brush Keeper Trade Dress and Infringing Color Code Trade Dress that are sold at Home Depot," the complaint states.

Wooster adopted the slogan with knowledge of Sherwin-Williams' previous use, the company alleges.

About the Companies

The Wooster Brush Company, founded in 1851, manufactures more than 2,000 products and supplies for painters of all skill levels, according to the company's website. The company is one of the oldest makers of paint applicators in the U.S.

The Sherwin-Williams Company, founded in 1866, is the nation's largest specialty retailer of paint and painting supplies and offers products to both DIY networks and painting professionals.


Tagged categories: Brushes and rollers; Laws and litigation; Paint application; Sherwin-Williams; Wooster Brush Company

Comment from Brian Chapman, (12/20/2012, 11:39 AM)

Are you kidding me? Those packages look nothing alike. SW is a conglomerate running amok.They just write a check for 2.3 BILLION dollars to buy yet another paint company, then sue the competition to recover some of that outlay. CORPORATE GREED at its FINEST.

Comment from Wayne Yancey, (12/20/2012, 12:13 PM)

As a consumer do I care. Not in the least. This like saying Safeway was first to the market with plastic bags and the other stores should not copy. This is so trivial it is laughable. Take a valium SW.

Comment from Wayne Yancey, (12/20/2012, 12:24 PM)

I can't really believe this. Is this April 1st? Nobody died and nobody went to war. SW, take a reality check. It will all be forgotten after Dec 21st, 2012 when the world, as we know it, ends. Buy Benjamin Moore.

Comment from Mike McCloud, (12/21/2012, 8:56 AM)

Will SW win and drop their prices?

Comment from M. Halliwell, (12/21/2012, 11:19 AM)

In this day and age in the US, I'm not surprised in the slightest. Heck, Treck Bicycles is suing Subaru (yes, the car company) for trademark infringement for using "trek" in the name for their new Crosstrek XV cross-over. Sheesh....when in doubt, litigate and let the courts sort it out.

Comment from John Fauth, (12/21/2012, 11:56 AM)

It seems to me that Wooster crossed a line with the use of a slogan that obviously infringes upon Purdy. I'm guessing the attorneys threw in the rest because that's what attorneys do.

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (1/2/2013, 12:31 PM)

Guys, I did a quick search: Wooster has been using that "if it's worth painting" slogan in national advertising since at least 1929. Popular Science, July 1929, Page 98. Sherwin Williams/Purdy only claims they started using the slogan in 1998 - nearly 70 years later. Seems like a slam-dunk countersuit.

Comment from John Fauth, (1/3/2013, 9:20 AM)

Great research, Tom. Obviously changes my opinion. Makes it appear that S-W may be engaged in some bullying that's usually won by the party with the deepest pockets. Makes me wonder if this might be the precursor to a buy-out offer?

Comment from Jerry Trevino, (1/4/2013, 7:20 PM)

Purdy good research Tom. Maybe this will brush off the law suit aside.

Comment from John Fauth, (1/8/2013, 8:24 AM)

Drawing no conclusions... just making an observation... it's curious that several Wooster advertisements from 1929 and 1930 are so readily available in a Google search... and then nothing else. Nothing more recent. I'm not sure that makes sense to me.

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (1/8/2013, 9:24 AM)

John - I also saw Wooster advertisements from the 1960s with the slogan in my brief search. However, unless someone hires me to do the research - I'm not going to bother with going further. My own curiosity has been satisfied.

Comment from Lance C Futcher, (1/10/2013, 4:58 AM)

Only in America!

Comment from Bill Patterson, (1/10/2013, 8:43 AM)

And then the quote "If it's worth doing, it's worth overdoing." is ascribed to Ayn Rand. Maybe the lawyers could make this a three-way suit. Frankly, the expression "If it's worth doing, it's worth doing well." has been around for so long that it's ridiculous that any company should be able to claim rights to the fundamental concept.

Comment from John Koullias, (1/11/2013, 10:22 AM)

Lance said it "only in America"

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