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Skittles Maker Sues Cali Company for Trademark Infringement

Candy giant Mars Wrigley doesn't see the humor in the "medicated" knockoff.

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Candy giant Mars Wrigley has gone sour on a California-based online company Terphogz for making a knockoff, THC-laced candy called Zkittlez.

In several Federal suits filed this week, the Chicago-based Wrigley is suing Terphogz for millions of dollars in damages. The Skittles manufacturers say that the name, packaging, and logo of Zkittlez are "confusingly similar" to their iconic "Taste the Rainbow" brand. They want a permanent injunction on the sale of Zkittlez products and merch and ask that the company give them the website domain

In a statement, Mars Wrigley said the purpose of their lawsuit was: "to send the illicit cannabis industry a strong signal to stop illegally using the company's brands and products."

Related: Protecting Your IP Is (No Surprise) Even Harder in the Cannabis Business

Not a new problem

Unfortunately, copyright infringement has been a problem in cannabis for a while, as shady players in the illicit market vie for attention. The most famous example is Girl Scout Cookies. A name brand like Skittles is familiar and eye-catching to consumers, but as Terphogz is learning the hard way—it's also somebody else's intellectual property. 

While copyright infringement in the black market has been going on relatively unchallenged for years, big-name companies like Mars Wrigley are starting to push back. In another complaint filed in California, the company goes after a group of online retailers selling edibles with names like "Life Savers Medicated Gummies" and "Starburst Gummies."

In an email to CNBC, the company wrote: "At Mars Wrigley, we take great pride in making fun treats that parents can trust giving to their children and children can enjoy safely. We are deeply disturbed to see our trademarked brands being used illegally to sell THC-infused products, and even more so to hear of children ingesting these products and becoming ill."