BEAUTY CARE

Lafe’s introduces new line of organic products

BY Antoinette Alexander

AUSTIN, Texas Lafe’s Natural Bodycare has announced the launch of its new line of Lafe’s Organic Baby products that includes baby shampoo and body wash, massage oil, baby lotion and mother-to-be deodorant.

The products are certified organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, earning the USDA’s green seal indicating the ingredients are 95 percent certified organic. They are also packaged in what Lafe’s is terming “baby-safe plastic,” meaning they are free of estrogenic activity (EA) chemicals that, according to some research, could trigger endocrine disruption.

Lafe’s Organic Baby will also be introducing sunscreen, diaper cream, and baby wipes later this year.

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P&G sues RNA over Herbal Essences patents

BY Antoinette Alexander

CINCINNATI Procter & Gamble has filed a lawsuit against RNA Corp. alleging that the company has infringed on P&G’s Herbal Essences intellectual property, including trademark, trade dress and design patents.

“We believe this is a clear case of infringement designed to take advantage of the Herbal Essences’ business and its consumer loyalty,” stated Steven Jemison, P&G chief legal officer. “This is a serious case of intellectual property infringement, and we are asking the court to stop the distribution of these products to protect the equity of Herbal Essences.”

A spokesperson for RNA Corp. was not immediately available for comment.

The suit, filed in the Southern District of Ohio in Cincinnati, involves the company’s Herbal Essences logo and the design of the shampoo and conditioners bottles.

According to P&G, RNA Corp. is distributing shampoo and conditioner under the name Hydrating Herbal Shampoo and Hydrating Herbal Conditioner, which infringe the Herbal Essences intellectual property rights. P&G is asking RNA Corp. to be ordered to stop distributing the products, to recall the existing inventory from store shelves and the destroy the bottle molds.

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Guilty pleas entered in cases of counterfeit Colgate trafficking

BY Antoinette Alexander

WASHINGTON Two individuals and two corporations pleaded guilty Thursday in Brooklyn, N.Y., to charges of trafficking in counterfeit Colgate toothpaste, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Acting assistant attorney general Matthew Friedrich of the Criminal Division of U.S. attorney Benton J. Campbell for the Eastern District of New York announced that Saifoulaye Diallo of the Bronx; Habib Bah of Queens; and two New York corporations, Mabass Inc. and Vidtape Inc., pleaded guilty to trafficking in counterfeit goods in violation of criminal trademark laws.

“These defendants undermined the basic precept that consumers are safe to assume that when they purchase retail health and safety products they are buying what the label says they are buying. A parent should never have to fear that buying an everyday item like toothpaste could put a family at risk,” stated Friedrich. “This case demonstrates the department’s continued commitment to prosecute aggressively criminals who seek to profit by importing and distributing counterfeit goods that put out citizens’ health and safety in jeopardy.”

According to the department, the defendants admitted during the plea hearings to having trafficked in a combined total of 518,028 tubes of counterfeit Colgate toothpaste with an estimated retail value of $730,419. At sentencing, the individual defendants each face up to 10 years in prison, a fine of $2 million and three years of supervised release following their release from prison. The two corporate defendants face up to a $5 million fine, restitution and up to five years of organizational probation. Sentencing has been set for Jan. 9, 2009.

According to the criminal information filed in the case, lab tests conducted by the Food and Drug Administration and Colgate-Palmolive on samples of the counterfeit toothpaste revealed that they lacked fluoride, an ingredient found in genuine Colgate toothpaste, and that some of the toothpaste contained microorganisms, such as bacillus spores and diethylene glycol. Diethylene glycol, commonly used as a coolant for hydraulic and brake fluids, is illegally used in the production of counterfeit health care products to provide lubrication and help products maintain moisture. According to the FDA, the level of diethylene glycol contained in the counterfeit toothpaste can pose health and safety risks to all consumers but primarily to individuals with comprised immune systems, children and infants.

The information revealed that the packaging on the counterfeit toothpaste was substantially indistinguishable from the legitimate Colgate-Palmolive products except that it contained spelling and grammatical errors and erroneously stated that the toothpaste was made in South Africa. The defendants sold most of the counterfeit toothpaste at issue to secondary distributors and small to mid-size discount stores throughout several states in the United States.

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