Answer Yourself! A blog by Sukhpreet Singh

A blog on personal development, entrepreneurship & change.

12th September 2007

What matters – being number 1 by any means or fair play?

In my previous article, i talked about a small, young (4 years new) but fast growing organic plant food company – TerraCycle®. They are being sued by a large (over 2.6 billion dollar), 100 years old company – Scotts Miracle-Gro®.

So whats the lawsuit? According to, a site owned by Terracycle:

1) Scotts claims that the two companies’ products look similar and will confuse customers because some TerraCycle plant foods have a green and yellow label with a circle and a picture of flowers and vegetables on it.
2) Scotts also objects that TerraCycle says its plant food is as good or better than “a leading synthetic plant food” and is refusing Scotts’ demands that TerraCycle hand over its scientific tests conducted at the Rutgers University EcoComplex to Scotts’ scientists and lawyers. Scotts refuses to turn its tests over to TerraCycle.

But Why did this multi-billion dollar GOLIATH sue DAVID (TerraCycle – the small company)? I found this reason by Rider of to make a lot of sense:

It appears the lawsuit is really an attempt by Scotts Miracle-Gro to prevent TerraCycle from becoming established in the rapidly growing market for organic non-chemical based fertilizers and plant food, which coincidentally Scotts Miracle-Gro is trying to crack into with its Organic Choice® line of products.
Clearly Scotts is concerned by the fact TerraCycle is carried by Wal-Mart & Home Depot as well as numerous other large retailers and that this will some how impact their business.Bullying

Hmmm… that seems like bullying to me. According to this definition of bullying at :

Bullying is the act of intentionally causing unhappiness to others through verbal harassment, physical assault, or other more subtle methods of coercion such as manipulation. There is currently no legal definition of bullying.
In colloquial speech, bullying often describes a form of harassment perpetrated by an abuser who possesses more physical and/or social power and dominance than the victim. The victim of bullying is sometimes referred to as a target. The harassment can be verbal, physical and/or emotional.

There are many types of bullying. One particular kind is known as Legal bullying. It is a way of bringing a distressing legal action to control and punish a person or an organization. So what are the characteristics of a target that is chosen to be bullied amongst so many others that exist and what events trigger such an act – (source: here)

a) target company/person might be showing independence of thought or deed.
b) the bully fears exposure of his/her inadequacy and incompetence; target’s presence, popularity and competence unintentionally fuel that fear
c) having a well-defined set of values which the target is unwilling to compromise (hint: Being environmental friendly, organic)

a) target’s performance unwillingly highlights, draws attention to, exposes or invites unfavorable comparison with the bully’s lack of performance
b) challenging the status quo, especially unintentionally
c) gaining recognition of target’s achievements, eg winning an award or being publicly recognized.

TerraCycle has decided to fight the lawsuit which might cost them an estimated 1 million dollars. For a startup company which is just beggining to see profit, thats a lot of money. On the other hand, putting myself in the big Giant’s shoes, i see the point – crush the competition before it becomes big.

So whats right – being #1 by any means or fair play?

PS: Check out to find more details about insighful comparison between the two companies, their history, TerraCycle’s counter-arguments etc. Also, there is a link to make donations to TerraCycle to raise enough funds to fight this case. Disclaimer: I am not affiliated to any of the above companies.

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posted in change, entrepreneurship |

" TOO OFTEN WE ENJOY THE COMFORT OF OPINION WITHOUT THE DISCOMFORT OF THOUGHT. " - JFK. Thinking is required, commenting is optional. Please leave your thoughts...

  1. 1 On September 14th, 2007, Logan said:

    Yo buddy,

    That is some good insight into a trial that I would have not known about. You see this type of Legal bullying as a means for many people to scare their target, such as the RIAA suing 20,000 ppl or IP trolls.

    I guess this is just part of buisness

  2. 2 On September 18th, 2007, Preet said:

    I agree Logan that what RIAA is doing may be regarded as bullying. But thats to stop the piracy. Motive in case of RIAA is different as compared to Scott’s. Its like: A gun itself has no character or value until the use/motive behind it is defined. If used by a cop to protect citizens, its good; but if used by a thug, its bad.

  3. 3 On March 1st, 2013, Jamie Cole said:

    Hey dude, I just thought I’d let you know that your website is loading very slowly. If you’re looking for a fast WordPress host then I recommend FusionHost. I’ve been using them for a few years and they are faultless, especially for the price. They also have WordPress on their 1-click installer if you have any other blogs ;) Take care!

  4. 4 On January 18th, 2014, Rizi said:

    hello!,I love your writing so a lot! proportion we keep in touch extra approximately
    your post on AOL? I need an expert in this space to solve my problem.
    May be that’s you! Looking ahead to peer you.

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