Popsicle giant threatens B.C. Starsicle maker
Unilever says Nelson woman's 'Starsicle' is infringing its Popsicle trademark
Popsicle giant Unilever has set its sights on Nelson's Rain Shields and her gourmet ice pop treat, the Starsicle.
The company holds the trademark for Popsicle and the rest of the 'SICLE' family including Fudgsicle, and Creamsicle, but Shields has been selling her Starsicles in the Okanagan and Kootenays for the last four years.
Two years ago when she applied to trademark the name in Canada and the U.S., the trouble began. A letter from Unilever arrived telling Shields to immediately stop using the word Starsicle.
"I was terrified," she said. "Like it scared the Popsicle pants right off me. Because I was just like, these people are massive."
In the letter, Unilever warns that its "famous family" of 'SICLE' trademarks is federally registered and "the result of enormous investments of time, money and other resources over the years to maintain its highly regarded image and control over the quality of its goods."
Unilever threatens legal action
Unilever is threatening legal action if Shields doesn't destroy all the packaging and marketing materials,
On Thursday afternoon the company issued a statement saying, while they respect Shields' creativity and entrepreneurship, they needed to protect the 91-year-old SICLE trademark.
"The issue is one of respecting property rights. A business of any size – large or small – looking to use the SICLE mark would be challenged," said the statement
Nevertheless, Shields is fighting back the only way she knows how — in the court of public opinion with a video and a protest song.
"We need to fight and we need to call on the people to help us," said Shields. "We have written a song because in our little world songs are like swords. You can use them for good."
She's hoping people flock to her side and that the public pressure will force the company to back down. Shields has launched a website, Planet Bennu chronicling her fight.
- A previous version of this story incorrectly said Rain Shields is from Kelowna. She is actually from Nelson, B.C.Jun 26, 2014 12:39 PM PT
With files from Brady Strachan