Little Trees

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Little Trees hanging from rear view mirror.

Little Trees are disposable air fresheners shaped like a stylized evergreen tree, marketed for use in motor vehicles, and most commonly seen hanging from rear-view mirrors. They are made of a specially formulated absorbent material produced in a variety of colors and scents. The aroma remains in a car for approximately four days from the moment of opening the package of a Little Tree.

Little Trees were invented in 1952 in Watertown, New York, by Julius Sämann, a German-Jewish chemist and businessman[1] who had fled the Nazis. He had studied Alpine tree aromas in the forests of Canada and was interested in the biological mechanisms used to transport and disseminate them.[2] Little Trees air fresheners are manufactured in the United States by the Car-Freshner Corporation at factories (such as Royal Pine) in Watertown, New York and DeWitt, Iowa. Several companies in Europe produce Little Trees under license from Julius Sämann Ltd. using the names Wunder-Baum (in Denmark, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovenia and Sweden) and Arbre Magique (in France, Belgium, Italy, Portugal, and Spain).[3] It was formerly known as Magic Tree in the United Kingdom until the "Little Tree" name was adopted in 2011.[4][5] The company is known for pursuing lawsuits to protect its trademark.

Trademark[edit]

Car-Freshner fiercely defends its trademark of the tree-shaped air freshener design, and has filed several lawsuits against makers of lookalike products and against companies that use their products in other commercial media.[6]

  • 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.[7]
  • In 2006, Car-Freshner sued Dale Detwiler (owner of the Austin, Texas-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.[8]
  • In 2006, Car-Freshner 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".[9][10]
  • In 2009, Car-Freshner sued Getty Images for unauthorized use of its tree-shaped air fresheners in a series of stock photographs.[11][12]
  • Julius Sämann Ltd. filed a complaint with the Norwegian Industrial Property Office (NIPO) against Bulgarian air-freshener manufacturer Balev Eood for producing an aircraft-shaped air freshener which was somewhat similar in shape to their trademarked fir tree shape.[13] NIPO rejected the complaint, and the Board of Appeal upheld the decision in January 2011.[14]
  • In 2011, Car-Freshner sued Beck & Call for producing a similar line of tree-shaped promotional air fresheners.[15]
  • In December 2015, Car-Freshner sued Sun Cedar, a non-profit organization that aimed to provide gainful employment to the homeless and previously incarcerated, for producing tree-shaped air freshners made of cedar wood. In September 2016, unable to cope with the growing legal costs, Sun Cedar filed for bankruptcy [16][17]

In popular culture[edit]

Little Trees have been featured in multiple aspects of popular culture.

Art[edit]

  • The British artist Jack Williams, the son of a car salesman, created ‘‘Forest’’,[18] a 2009 installation using 350 Royal Pine air fresheners, hung in a square configuration from the ceiling via fishing wire.[19]

Films[edit]

Music[edit]

  • Mike D mentions Little Trees in the Beastie Boys song, "Slow Ride" ("I got the trees in my mirror/So my car won't smell").

Raggare[edit]

  • In Norway and Sweden, the Wunder-Baum brand is sometimes associated with the raggare subculture.

Legality[edit]

In the United States, many states have regulations concerning obstructed view, objects hanging from the rear-view mirror, obstructed windshield, or similar legislation. Citations and/or custodial arrests for violations of such statutes are not unknown.[21]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Little Trees Europe". little-trees.co.uk. Archived from the original (Shockwave flash) on 2006-05-01. Retrieved 2006-05-13. 
  2. ^ Greenbaum, Hilary & Rubinstein, Dana (March 2, 2012). "Who Made Those Little Trees Air Fresheners?". The New York Times Magazine. 
  3. ^ O'Connor, Deb (August 2005). "Little Trees: An American icon born and raised in Watertown" (PDF). Absolutely Business. pp. 18–23. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 9, 2011. Retrieved 29 Sep 2011. 
  4. ^ "A little change for Magic Tree". CAT. 2011-08-25. Archived from the original on 2017-05-06. Retrieved 2018-02-03. One of the most recognisable brands in the UK aftermarket, [Magic Tree's UK distributor has] announced that from this month the Magic Tree brand will change its name to Little Trees. 
  5. ^ "The Magic Tree air freshener: where it came from, and why it's so successful". ArnoldClark.com. 2014-02-25. Archived from the original on 2016-07-28. Retrieved 2018-02-03. The Magic Tree car air freshener – now more commonly known as the LITTLE TREES air freshener – has become a motoring icon. 
  6. ^ "Julius Samann". Dockets & Filings. Retrieved 2011-11-22. 
  7. ^ "Oblon, Spivak Logs A Court Victory For Car-Freshner's "Little Trees"; Counterfeit Air Freshener Trees Turned Over For Destruction". Oblon.com. Retrieved 2011-11-22. 
  8. ^ "If a Tree Falls on a Corndog ... Austin novelty card company gets crushed by lawyers and money". Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 2011-11-22. 
  9. ^ "High Court Grants Breathing Space to Tree-Shaped Air Fresheners". Archived from the original on 2012-08-23. Retrieved 2011-11-22. 
  10. ^ "Judgement in the case of Julius Sämann v. Tetrosyl ltd" (PDF). Jenkins.eu. Retrieved 2011-11-22. 
  11. ^ "Something Smells Off: Getty Images Sued Over Silhouette of Air Freshener". chillingeffects.org. Retrieved 2011-11-22. 
  12. ^ "Makers of Pine-Tree Deodorizers Allowed to Proceed With Lawsuit Against Getty Images". Retrieved 2011-11-22. 
  13. ^ "AREON BULGARIA LTD - Perfumery and cosmetics". Kras.net. Archived from the original on 2012-04-26. Retrieved 2012-04-14. 
  14. ^ "Court rules in air freshener case". baa.no. Archived from the original on 2012-07-20. Retrieved 2011-11-22. 
  15. ^ "Car-Freshner CORPORATION and JULIUS SÄMANN LTD. vs. STANISLAWSKI MARKETINGVENTURES, LLC, D/B/A BECK & CALL". Scribd. Retrieved 2011-11-22. 
  16. ^ "Trademark Claim Sticks in Fight Over Evergreen Car Fresheners". New York Law Journal. Retrieved 27 October 2016. 
  17. ^ "Facing a trademark infringement lawsuit, Sun Cedar files for bankruptcy and closes its doors". LJWorld.com. Retrieved 27 October 2016. 
  18. ^ Williams, Jack (2009). Forest. UK: free-range.org.uk. 
  19. ^ Greenbaum, Hilary & Rubinstein, Dana (March 2, 2012). "Who Made Those Little Trees Air Fresheners?". The New York Times Magazine. 
  20. ^ Moos, Jeanne (1996-01-31). "How's your car's fashion 'scents'?". CNN. Archived from the original on May 3, 2015. Retrieved 2006-05-20. 
  21. ^ "Californian Vehicle Code Section 26700-26712". leginfo.ca.gov. Archived from the original on 2009-05-26. 

External links[edit]