By Dakin Campbell and Andrew Frye
July 28 (Bloomberg) -- International Dairy Queen, the ice cream maker owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., asked a California court to halt sales of frozen desserts marketed under a name similar to its Blizzard product.
Blizz Frozen Yogurt is causing confusion among customers familiar with Dairy Queen’s best-selling item, the company said in a filing in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. The request seeks to block Yogubliz Inc.’s use of the Blizz name. Yogubliz filed a pre-emptive suit in May, saying it received threats from Dairy Queen and that the two products are distinct.
Dairy Queen “is suffering irreparable harm and damage to the goodwill” of Blizzard trademarks, the company said in a July 26 filing. Yogubliz’s product is “likely to cause confusion, mistake and deception among consumers.”
Dairy Queen, which operates restaurants in every U.S. state but Vermont, was purchased by Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire in 1998, according to the company’s website. Buffett, Berkshire’s chief executive officer, built the parent company with investments in brands like Coca-Cola Co. and American Express Co.
Dairy Queen said Blizz Frozen Yogurt would dilute the distinctive quality of the “famous” Blizzard treat, according to the filing. The Blizzard is a “soft serve frozen dairy product blended with candy or cookie pieces or other flavorings,” the company said.
Dairy Queen sold more than 175 million Blizzards in 1985, the first year it was offered, according to the company’s website.
In its complaint, Yogubliz said its product doesn’t infringe on Dairy Queen trademarks. The rival offerings are “based on the wholly unprotectible idea of freezing and serving milk and milk-based products with or without flavoring, coloring and/or non-milk products,” according to the complaint.
Yogubliz said its products received “rave reviews” upon launch and, because they’re made with frozen yogurt, are different than Dairy Queen’s Blizzard. Yogubliz owns shops throughout California and in Las Vegas.
The company said it received a trademark last year for Blizzberry, a blended drink made with fruit, milk and frozen yogurt.
A hearing is set for an Aug. 23 in front of U.S. District Judge Gary Klausner.
Dean Peters, a spokesman for Dairy Queen, declined to comment. A call to Yogubliz’s offices after hours wasn’t returned.
The case is Yogubliz Inc. v. American Dairy Queen Corp., 2:10-cv-03677, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).
--Editors: Dan Reichl, Peter Blumberg.CNBC VIDEO: Warren Buffett Testifies to Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission
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