Little Trees

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

Little Trees are the iconic air fresheners in the shape of a stylized evergreen tree, marketed for use in cars. They are made of a specially formulated absorbent material produced in a variety of colors and scents. They are most commonly seen hanging from rear-view mirrors of vehicles.

These air fresheners were invented in 1952 in Watertown, New York by a German-Jewish immigrant and 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 Julius Sämann Ltd. using the names Wunder-Baum (Sweden, Germany, Poland, Netherlands, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Romania) and Arbre Magique (France, Italy, Spain, Portugal).[2] The company is infamous for many sue cases.

CAR-FRESHNER operates factories in Watertown, New York and DeWitt, Iowa.

The Trees are feature prominently in movies and TV shows. The Fisher King, Seven, and Repo Man.[3] to name a few. 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]