Last year Tyco Healthcare sued Kimberly-Clark, claiming the Dallas, TX-based company was infringing on its trademarked name Flexi-Wings used on Always brand sanitary pads. Tyco Healthcare, a former Tyco International Ltd. unit that was recently spun off as Covidien Ltd., claimed Kimberly-Clark purposefully tried to confuse customers by juxtaposing its trademark name Comfort-Flex next to the word “wings" on its Kotex brand packaging. But K-C denied Tyco's claim that the two names were "confusingly similar," and said in court documents that "wings" is a generic term used by many sanitary pad companies.
Tyco Healthcare—now Covidien—licenses the Flexi-Wings name to Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble Co., which uses it on Always brand sanitary pads with wings, which are extensions intended to hold pads in place and give added absorption. Tyco claims the Always brand holds a 50% share of the market for sanitary pads.
Attorneys at a federal court hearing in Boston, MA this week said they were close to reaching a settlement, although they would not discuss the terms. "We're very close to resolving this matter," said Jeffery Handelman, an attorney for K-C. At stake is a piece of the lucrative feminine hygiene products market, which was worth more than $1.84 billion in 2006, according to Mintel, a market research firm in Chicago. Procter & Gamble and Kimberly-Clark are the two biggest players in the market.