Simply Green Products is a $10 million company that produces biodegradable packing materials that orchards use in the Shenandoah Valley to transport their apples, peaches, and pears nationwide. Biodegradable materials are more eco-friendly because they break down into the environment. Such packing materials are marketed under the name “SafePack,” which is heavily advertised in trade journals. Simply Green Products have had the name “SafePack” imprinted on all of their packing material since 2008; however, they never filed for either state or federal trademark protection. With the movement toward more eco-friendly agricultural production, the fact that such packing materials are biodegradable provides a primary marketing advantage over non-biodegradable competitors.
An environmental group is asserting that SafePack materials are not biodegradable. In fact, the group claims that these materials are causing an environmental hazard that is seeping from a local landfill into a nearby stream. An environmental group, SafePack Materials Pollute, has sprung up and launched an Internet campaign geared toward compelling fruit producers to stop purchasing your packing materials. The situation at hand raises environmental issues that relate to the Clean Water Act and the Solid Waste Disposal Act.
Determine whether or not the activity of Simply Green Products amounts to a violation of the applicable law (i.e., the Clean Water Act, the Solid Waste Disposal Act, or the Lanham Act). If you chose the environmental issue, determine whether or not seepage from your products into a stream would violate the Clean Water Act, the Solid Waste Disposal Act, or both. Explain your rationale. If you chose the intellectual property matter, determine whether or not continued use of the SafePack name by your company would violate the Lanham Act. Explain your rationale.