Professional Disposables International has been making Sani-Hands alcohol wipes since 1995, so the Rockland company noticed when SantiHands, a new product produced by a vape supply company, appeared on store shelves after the outbreak of Covid-19.
PDI sued NicVape Inc., the maker of the phonetically similar hand sanitizer, Sept. 11 in U.S. District Court, White Plains, for trademark infringement.
NicVape, the complaint states, “willfully intended to trade on plaintiff’s reputation and to cause confusion” between SantiHands and Sani-Hands.
PDI says it is a pioneer in manufacturing alcohol prep pads and germicidal disposable wipes. Nice-Pak Products Inc., an affiliated company, was granted the Sani-Hands trademark in 1995 for antiseptic, premoistened towelettes.
The wipes are more than 99% effective against many bacteria, viruses and fungi, according to PDI, in preventing infections. Sani-Hands are marketed to health care staff and patients and foodservice patrons who don’t have access to soap and water.
It is the number one sanitizing wipe in health care, according to the complaint, and it has been certified as a Food and Drug Administration food code compliant.
NicVape, based in Spartanburg, South Carolina, was founded in 2010, according to its website, and describes itself as the “ultimate source for the finest vape liquids, ingredients and vaping supplies online.”
The website makes no mention of SantiHands, and the company did not respond to an email asking for its side of the story.
NicVape has applied for trademark registration for SantiWipes, according to the complaint.
NicVape’s wipes began showing up in August at Home Depot stores, the complaint states, in the Bronx, Hawthorne, Port Chester and Fairfield, Connecticut.
PDI says it asked NicVape to cease and desist from using the SantiHands mark, but NicVape has not responded.
The complaint claims that many new hand sanitizer makers do not use the stringent manufacturing and testing procedures that PDI employs. It also notes that the FDA has recently recalled hand sanitizers that contain toxic alcohols, but provides no evidence that SantiHands does so.
A National Drug Code filing lists SantiHands’ active ingredient as alcohol, at 80%. The product label, as depicted in a photo exhibit in the lawsuit, shows its composition as 80% ethyl alcohol.
PDI’s Sani-Hands has 70% ethyl alcohol.
PDI accuses NicVape of trademark infringement, dilution of Sani-Hands’ reputation for excellence, false designation of origin and unfair competition.
It is demanding that NicVape stop using the SantiHands mark, destroy the products, and abandon its application for a trademark.
PDI is represented by Stamford attorneys Stephen P. McNamara and Alyson J. DiLena.