PORTLAND, Maine — A 7-year-old water bottling company has taken legal action against Nestle Waters North America, seeking to resolve a legal conflict that it says has been boiling over for years.
Maine Springs, with water extraction permits in the towns of Poland Spring and Poland, filed a lawsuit against Nestle in U.S. District Court Tuesday, alleging the bottled water giant that owns the Poland Spring brand has interfered with its business and falsely labels its Poland Spring water.
Maine Springs, formed in 2007 with extraction permits at two springs, states in its lawsuit that its efforts to sell its water have been complicated by a threat of legal action from Poland Spring. To bottle its water, federal and state law requires it identify the physical source of its water.
By listing its source in Poland Spring, Maine, Maine Springs said it received threats of a trademark violation lawsuit from Nestle. Maine Springs alleges in its lawsuit that Nestle also interfered with its attempts to supply water to other bottlers, including Niagara Bottling Co. and Crystal Rock.
In 2011, Maine Springs said it received a letter from Nestle.
“While we appreciate that there is a geographic location known as Poland Spring, Maine, the predominant associations created by the statement are that the ‘Poland Spring’ is the source of the water and that its contents are associated with the Poland Spring brand,” the letter stated, alleging violations of false designation of origin and misleading labeling under the same law Maine Springs is now seeking to sue Nestle.
Jane Lazgin, a spokeswoman for Nestle Waters, wrote in an email that Maine Springs owner John Juliano previously said he would bottle and sell water in a similar trade dress or file a lawsuit against Nestle if the bottling giant did not buy his company’s water.
“We will seek all appropriate remedies in this meritless matter,” Lazgin wrote.
In addition to allegations that Nestle interfered with its business, Maine Springs further alleges the Poland Spring brand mislabels the source of its water and misrepresents it as 100 percent natural spring water.
It’s not the first time that Poland Spring has faced such allegations. In 2003, it settled a class action lawsuit alleging that its water doesn’t come from a spring.