The makers of garden products Miracle-Gro and TerraCycle are as different as mature plants and seedlings.
The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company is a $7 billion global business with broad brand recognition, a 59 percent market share, and Roman columns framing the entry to its corporate headquarters. TerraCycle Inc. is a fledging startup with $1.5 million in annual sales, an infinitesimal share of the market, and a graffiti-covered warehouse with used tires on the lawn where the rose bushes were before someone stole them out of the ground.
But Scotts sees similarities between the two plant-food makers. So, the Goliath of plant products sued late last month, accusing TerraCycle of copying its look and falsely claiming that its organic products are better than synthetic ones like Miracle-Gro.
"I don't think their claims are valid," said TerraCycle CEO Tom Szaky, a 25-year-old Hungarian-born entrepreneur who dropped out of Princeton in 2003 to launch an eco-friendly company. TerraCycle's products are made from worm waste and packaged in used plastic bottles and jugs.
"They're claiming that (the colors) yellow and green are theirs," he said, referring to Scotts.