Thursday, May 10, 2007

Scott's sues eco-friendly startup

Demetrius told me about this story a few weeks ago, but I never got around to reading the whole thing for myself. On break today, I saw a story in the Business section of the Columbus Dispatch:

Scotts' turf war
Miracle-Gro brand sues tiny startup over packaging, eco assertions

...and resolved that I would actually post something about this tonight.

The makers of garden products Miracle-Gro and TerraCycle are as different as mature plants and seedlings.

The Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. is a $7 billion global business with broad brand recognition, a 59 percent market share and Roman columns framing the entry to its corporate headquarters. TerraCycle Inc. is a fledging startup with $1.5 million in annual sales, an infinitesimal share of the market and a graffiti-covered warehouse with used tires on the lawn where the rose bushes were before someone stole them out of the ground.

But Scotts sees similarities between the two plant-food makers. So, the Goliath of plant products sued late last month, accusing TerraCycle of copying its look and falsely asserting that its organic products are better than synthetic ones such as Miracle-Gro's.

"I don't think their claims are valid," said TerraCycle Chief Executive Tom Szaky, a 25-year-old Hungarian-born entrepreneur who dropped out of Princeton in 2003 to create an eco-friendly company. TerraCycle's products are made from worm waste and packaged in used plastic bottles and jugs.

"They're claiming that (the colors) yellow and green are theirs," he said, referring to Scotts.

He added, "Miracle-Gro has sued us over advertising. I've never bought an ad."
TerraCycle, which has yet to turn a profit, has created the TerraCycle Defense Fund through its Web site to help defray legal costs.

Click here to read the rest of the article, and here to check out TerraCycle's web site. Visit Sued By Scotts to donate to the TerraCycle Defense Fund, to find a store near you, or to purchase TerraCycle products online. (There are also links to PDFs showing other lawn and garden products with yellow and green labels.)


shano said...

I sent Scott Co. an email that I will never use their products again.