Scotts Miracle-Grow Sues Terracycle?

IMPORTANT NOTE: This article was written more than 10 years ago and a LOT has changed since then (as I type this in early 2018, I’m pretty sure Terracycle doesn’t even sell anything related to worm castings/tea anymore). Various links in the original article no longer work as well, so they have been removed.

I just caught wind of a very interesting story via Hugg! Apparently our friends at Terracycle are being sued by Scotts Miracle-Grow, the very well-known line of (primarily inorganic) fertilizers.

The hugg post links to an article on the ‘Sustainable is Good’ blog, which outlines some of the key components of the the lawsuit filed by Scotts Miracle-Grow.

Here is a blurb:

Scotts claims that TerraCycle’s use of yellow and green in its packaging too closely resembles its star Miracle-Grow┬« product line.

In addition, the 177 page complaint filed in the US District Court of New Jersey alleges false advertising for claims the company made saying its product is “superior and safer” to that of competitors.

The complaint filed by OMS Investments & The Scotts company also alleges violations of “Trade Dress Dilution, New Jersey Fair Trade Act and Unjust Enrichment”

TerraCycle denies Scotts claims and has created a website, (2018 UPDATE: Terracycle no longer owns this website. I’ve been told it is for an escort service ) showcase its side of the story. The website contains a PDF file with photos of over 80 similar fertilizer products that use yellow and green in their packaging.

It appears from looking at the complaint and the numerous other brands currently on the market which use a yellow and green color scheme that the real issue here is Scotts concern over protecting its new Organic Choice (TM) brand of Miracle-Gro products. The real issue here seems to be competition for market share in a rapidly growing industry – organic plant and lawn fertilizers.

Here is a link to the full article: Scotts Miracle-Gro Sues TerraCycle (amazingly enough, still up and running in 2018!)

Be sure to check out the Sued By Scotts website as well (NOPE – I don’t recommend that! lol). It provides a really interesting (and amusing) comparison of the two companies, aptly referred to as “David and Goliath”! It also lists more than 100 other products that use similar packaging to Miracle Grow.

I will be sure to provide any new updates as they become available. This whole thing sounds pretty far fetched to me! I think Scott’s is simply bitter that Terracycle has really been gaining ground in the fertilizer market, and is hoping to stamp them out before they get too big!

All I can say is thank goodness for the internet! The place where the ‘little guys’ can fight a big fight!

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    • Paul Harris
    • May 16, 2008

    I hope Scotts wins the lawsuit personally! Terracycle is producing a crap product that does NOT work. It’s WAY over priced. It contains e coli. The “good” bacteria that is in the tea are dead by the time they are purchased by the consumer. The good bacteria need oxygen to live. They cannot get oxygen in a plastic bottle sitting on a store shelf. TerraCycle should not be able to sell there product. The avg. person is being taken advantage of when they purchase this product.

    TerraCycle Plant Food… NPK (.03-.002-.02) what a JOKE!

    • Bentley
    • May 20, 2008

    Hey Paul,
    The suit was actually settled out of court. Terracycle agreed to enough of the Scotts’ terms to make them happy.
    Not sure about the E. coli claim – do you have evidence to back this up?

    That said, I myself have always wondered how they prevent their teas from going anaerobic during storage.

    I have tested Terracycle out for fun and was actually quite surprised how well it did in fact work.
    Is it worth the money? I guess that’s up the the customer to decide. I’d rather make my own vermicompost and brew up a fresh batch of my own tea. Nevertheless, I’m still impressed with what Terracycle has accomplished, and the awareness they’ve helped to raise.


    • Will
    • May 7, 2010

    Chemicals Yuck!Miracle Grow is so chocked full of chenicals I don’t see how it would be good for anything!The environmental cost of making the actual Miracle Grow product is pretty steep when you think about making your own compost tea that is fresh and cheap and actually way WAY better than anything you can buy!

    • woodinirgini
    • May 19, 2010

    SCOTTS now makes a liquid bottle fertilzer that it is marketing instead of the blue powdered stuff. it is marketed in bottles too. Similar to the terraccycle bottle. Not too many companies have the resources too keep DEFENDING themselves against NYSE listed SCOTTS in court.
    Consequently most companies fold to the cost of the legal bill.
    Scotts stuff is green in color, I don’t see any resemblance in color either, but then I am NOT a lawyer.

    BTW I see Scotts priced its regular fertilizer at Costco right into the stratosphere.. Not many people buying it in Virginia, perhaps this year the Chesapeake Bay will come back to life with less nutrient runoff.

    • steve
    • January 16, 2011

    did they win the case?

    • Steve
    • February 12, 2018

    Hey Bentley,

    The website, suedbyscotts, is now a London Escort Service. lol

    • Bentley
    • February 12, 2018

    Hey Steve – thanks for that info!! lol
    I have updated the post accordingly.

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