Monday, September 27, 2010

Saran isn't Saran anymore

My first professional job was with the Packaging Films Group of the long departed Hercules Company. While we made polyproplyene films, I quickly learned that the film with the best barrier properties (O2, moisture and aroma) was polyvinylidene chloride, PVDC. Dow developed and sold the film under the "Saran" tradename, although the product has been made and sold by S.C. Johnson for quite a number of years. Knowing of the barrier properties, I immediately starting buying it as my plastic wrap for the kitchen.

Now I find out that somewhere along the line, "Saran" is no longer "Saran", but has been switched over to polyethylene with its inferior barrier properties. I certainly won't be committed to buying it anymore, as I was having a hard time finding it locally - I had to target one big-box retailer to find it. But S.C. Johnson is now happier because they are "chlorine-free". That's great for their PR department but it will certainly result in the loss of endless leftover foods. (Another example of a local optimum not being part of a global optimum.)

I am also curious about how tradename issues are handled in this case. If "Saran" was a trademark for Dow's PVDC, what happens to the tradename when another material - PE, is sold under that name? Wouldn't you lose the tradename?

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