Closely Guarded Trade Secrets
Listerine's Litigious Past
One of the most famous trade-secret licensing deals was struck in 1886 between J.J. Lawrence, the maker of Listerine, and the Lambert Pharmaceutical Co. By 1956, Lambert had paid more than $22 million in licensing fees to the Lawrence family. The trade secret, however, had been made public years earlier, and Warner-Lambert [now Pfizer Inc.] decided that fact voided the earlier agreement. The U.S. courts disagreed, ruling that royalty payments on Listerine should continue because the company had gained a clear advantage in the marketplace by getting the formula first.