New Jersey-based Johnson & Johnson filed suit March 17 against Des Moines, Iowa-based Qualis Inc. for allegedly infringing its trademark and patent for its popular K-Y warming lubricant product.

Johnson & Johnson asked the federal court to bar Qualis from producing or distributing personal lubricants with packaging that could be confused with that of the K-Y brand, alleging the confusion caused a drop in the product’s sales.

“We vigorously defend our intellectual property,” Johnson & Johnson said in a press release. “It is our belief that a private label product manufactured by Qualis Inc. infringes both the trade dress and patent of our K-Y Brand Warming Liquid. We have filed a complaint against the company in this regard, seeking to remove the Qualis product from the market.”

According to the filing, Qualis has spent the past two years selling warming liquid personal lubricants to three major pharmacy chains in packaging deceptively similar to Johnson & Johnson’s K-Y brand.

The K-Y warming lubricant product was an instant success, Johnson & Johnson said, adding that Americans spent more than $170 million on personal lubricants in 2005.