Ketchup makers battle over rights to “red zone”January 22, 2007

Ketchup giant Heinz and rival ketchup maker Red Gold are embroiled in a trademark dispute over the right to use “Red Zone” in promotions associated with football games. In football, the red zone is the common name of the area between the 20-yard line and the end zone, and a team’s offense is often measured by how well they perform once they enter into the opponent’s red zone. Red Gold engages in promotional activities with the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts and has done so for the past four years. Heinz has been doing similar promotions in Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Baltimore, and Cleveland since the 2002-03 NFL season, and operates the website Heinz also holds a trademark on “Heinz Red Zone” for ketchup, and has a pending application for the same mark for “Entertainment services, namely, providing a web site featuring information and news relating to sports, sporting venues, and tailgating” which is currently being opposed at the Trademark Office by Red Gold. According to reports, Heinz actually sent a cease-and-desist letter to the Indianapolis Colts in January, 2006, but the case has not been discussed publicly by the companies until now. Red Gold first discussed the dispute after the Colts played in yesterday’s AFC Championship Game (the Colts won, 38-34). In keeping with the football theme, a Heinz spokesperson called the public disclosure “a fourth-and-long publicity stunt.”

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