Skittles vs Zkittlez

This famous marijuana strain got itself into some hot water due to the similarity of its name with a popular candy.

If you're a cannabis consumer you must have smoked or at least heard about the Zkittlez strain; In case you didn't know, Skittles is a brand of fruit-flavored candy from which the Zkittlez strain got its name due to the resemblance in taste and aroma.

Well, on May 3rd, 2021, the owner of Skittles candy and one of the biggest candy companies, Wrigley, finally sued Terphogz, the small California company that created and promoted the Zkittlez strain and brand.

Mars Wrigley which is the largest candy makers in the world and had a revenue of around $37 billion in 2020 has sued Terphogz for trademark infringement, false designation of origin, unfair competition, trademark dilution and cybersquatting, alleging that Terphogz illegally marketed Zkittlez due to the popularity of the brand.

The candy company claims that the action was taken in order to protect the public for deceptive and dangerous business practices, and to safeguard the reputation of the Skittles brand, petitioning that Terphogz ceases using the Zkittlez brand, destroys all the merchandise, surrenders their website and pay all the attorney fees.

On the other hand, Terphogz defense claims that they will now be using "The Original Z" instead of Zkittlez and that harming the reputation of Skittles wasn't their goal due to never having done any Zkittlez edibles or candy collaboration with any company.Similar Problems In The Cannabis IndustryThis type of lawsuit isn't new to the cannabis industry, just marks an issue that's growing as the cannabis industry becomes legal across the world. If you're not a cannabis consumer, you probably haven't heard about similar problems that happened with strains such as Skywalker OG, Gorilla Glue and Bruce Banner for example.

Experts say that this kind of problem is bound to happen, especially in the cannabis industry which, despite being illegal, was strongly present all over the world and it's only now being presented with laws and regulations, meaning that it will be a slow but steady process until everything gets figured out but it'll get there.

What Triggered The Lawsuit

According to the information available it wasn't actually the name Zkittlez that triggered the lawsuit but the illegal edibles using fake Skittles and Starburst packaging which led Wrigley to also file two lawsuits against sellers of illegal THC candy in Illinois.Despite recreational cannabis being legal in Illinois, the high prices have led consumers to search for more accessible products which led to a huge black market where you can buy illegal and fake products such as the ones mentioned.Wrigley's action against Terphogz and the Zkittlez brand was the third in a series of lawsuits in order to stop illegal cannabis producers and sellers from using trademarked brands to make THC-infused edibles, this is why they want to shut down the Zkittlez strain and brand marketed by Terphogz.

In 2016 the Cali-based company entered theri Zkittlez strain and won the award for best flower at The Emerald Cup in California, probably why they have turned the strain into a brand but they claim that they don't have any connections with edibles companies and have never made Zkittlez THC-infused candy but rather promoted the Zkittlez strain and related merch.
But despite the company's claim, the legal cannabis industry is moving away from this type of products and industry experts say that despite not being regulated in most places yet, it doesn't mean that you can use a brand name associated with children's candy to identify cannabis strains and/or products.

Cannabis Brands

The International Cannabis Bar Association which is engaged in exploring and making a foundation for the evolving cannabis industry listed two main reasons why Wrigley may be right.First of all, some state's regulations ban certain shapes and colors of cannabis-infused edibles, so it was only a matter of time for the candy company to take actions, claiming that you cannot advertise cannabis products in a way that it may appeal to children.

Secondly, this is not the first time it has happened, as mentioned before, it happened with several strains such as Gorilla Glue and says that despite the strain and product having a flavor similar to the Skittles candy, it doesn't mean that you can actually name it after the brand which should be obvious if you know a bit about the corporate world.

Zkittlez Revenue

Wrigley states that Terphogz could have made its own brand but preferred using the famous Skittles logo and name, claiming that the brand has earned a lot of money at the their expense, while ruining the reputation of the famous candy brand so it's possible that the candy giant will want to get their share of the Zkittlez strain and merch profit. Obviously, this doesn't mean that the strain will disappear, as of now, the brand has changed its name to "The Original Z" and Terphogz has won second place in another Emerald Cup with their recent cross Zrunts, which is a cross between Zkittlez and Runtz. This way marking the popularity of the strain and reaffirming that Zkittles is here to stay.

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Louis O'Neill
Louis O'Neill

Louis is a writer based in Sydney with a focus on social and political issues. Having interviewed local politicians and entrepreneurs, Louis now focuses on cannabis culture, legislation & reform.