Little Trees

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For other uses, see Little tree (disambiguation).
Little Trees hanging from rear view mirror.

Little Trees are disposable air fresheners in the shape of a stylized evergreen tree, marketed for use in cars. They are made of a material very similar to beer coasters and are produced in a variety of colors and scents. They are most commonly seen hanging from rear-view mirrors on front windshields.

These air fresheners were invented in 1952 in Watertown, New York by Swiss-born businessman Julius Sämann.[1] They are manufactured in the US by the Car-Freshner corporation. A handful of companies in Europe produce Little Trees under license from Car-Freshner, using the names Magic Tree (UK, Ireland), Wunder-Baum (Sweden, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Romania), and Arbre Magique (France, Italy, Spain, Portugal).[2]

Car-Freshner operates factories in Watertown, New York, DeWitt, Iowa, and Berlin, New Hampshire (closed on April 17, 2012).[citation needed]

Little Trees are often promoted through motorsports. In 1986, Little Trees became a sponsor of Formula 3 racing in Italy. Little Trees has been a sponsor of Porsche Motorsport in Germany. In the US, Little Trees currently sponsors NASCAR driver Mike Olsen.

The trees feature prominently in the movies The Fisher King, Seven, and Repo Man.[3] In Sweden the Wunder-Baum brand is sometimes associated with the raggare culture.

The trees are mentioned by Mike D in the Beastie Boys song, "Slow Ride" ("I got the trees in my mirror/So my car won't smell").

Trademark[edit]

Car-Freshner fiercely defends its trademark on the tree-shaped air freshener design, and in recent years has filed several lawsuits[4] against makers of lookalike products, and against companies that use their products in other commercial media.

In 2002, Car-Freshner sued Rite Way Wholesale and Distributors, Inc. of New York for importing and distributing a "vanilla-scented tree shaped air fresheners with a patriotic design". As a result of the judgement, the defendants were required to surrender their entire inventory to the plaintiffs for destruction, and were required to pay an unspecified penalty.[5]

In 2006, they sued Dale Detwiler (owner of the Austin-based Corndog Cards & Novelties) after Detwiler company produced holiday greeting cards that bore a glow-in-the-dark image of a scratch-and-sniff tree-shaped air freshener.[6]

In 2006, they won a suit against UK-based Tetrosyl Ltd for producing a tree-shaped air freshener that "included snow, flashing lights, the shape of a tub at the bottom".[7][8]

In 2009, they sued Getty Images for unauthorized use of its tree-shaped air fresheners in a series of stock photographs.[9][10]

Julius Sämann Ltd filed a complaint with the Norwegian Industrial Property Office (NIPO) against Bulgarian [11] air-freshener manufacturer Balev Eood for producing an aircraft-shaped air freshener which was somewhat similar in shape to their trademarked fir tree shape. NIPO rejected the complaint, and the Board of Appeal upheld the decision in January 2011.[12]

In 2011, Car-Freshner sued Beck & Call for producing a similar line of tree-shaped promotional air fresheners.[13]

References[edit]

External links[edit]