PORTLAND, MAINE COFFEE SHOP SETTLES TRADEMARK INFRINGEMENT LAWSUIT
It’s amazing how three simple letters can trigger a federal case. That’s what two Utah companies learned about the abbreviation “CBD.”
Portland, Maine-based coffee shop Coffee by Design uses a CBD logo on its coffee bags. Coffee by Design holds nationwide trademark rights to “CBD” for coffee, food, and drinks. But other companies have tried to cash in on these letters. In May 2019, Coffee by Design sued 4Bush Holdings and Desert Lake Group. The two Utah companies sell coffee infused with the cannabidiol (also known as CBD) and were doing business as CBD Coffee. Now, a settlement between the parties has been reached.
Maine US District Judge Nancy Torreson ordered the Utah companies to stop using the CBD trademark in relation to coffee. However, they were allowed to continue using it in relation to their cannabidiol products. Neither party admitted wrongdoing, but the defendants were ordered to pay an unspecified monetary settlement to Coffee by Design.
Coffee by Design became aware that other Portland stores were adding CBD to their coffee and calling it “CBD coffee.” 4Bush and Desert Lake specifically were selling mail-order coffee using the “CBD” label. The coffee was sold in Maine, where Coffee by Design is located. In addition, the packaging contained claims of anxiety, depression, and pain relief. All of this, combined, spelled troubled for Coffee by Design’s trademark rights.
Coffee by Design argued that the Utah companies’ packaging “created a likelihood of confusion in the minds of the public.” This, the lawsuit contended, would have misled consumers over the difference between the coffees.
The CBD case illustrates the vital role that trademarks play in commercial transactions. As many legal experts have observed, they protect both the public and private businesses. The public deserves to know the origin of goods. Trademarks are therefore intended to prevent confusion, deception, and mistake regarding this. They help consumers make an informed choice about what, and from whom, they purchase products.
Companies are protected by trademarks as well. Those who have attained a certain reputation for their products can use trademarks to identify them. In so doing, these companies protect the goodwill they have generated with the consuming public. The trademark symbolizes their brand and represents the hard work they have invested in their goods.
Eddington & Worley knows the value of trademarks for businesses and consumers alike. We work with companies to protect the brands they have built. We do so by fighting to prevent unfair competition through misappropriation of their trademarks. Our goal is to help these businesses stop others from piggybacking on their efforts by protecting their intellectual property rights. The Coffee by Design case perfectly demonstrates how this happens.
Coffee by Design had warned other companies about misusing their trademarks prior to filing its lawsuit. Where possible, that’s an approach that businesses should generally take. Intellectual property violations are often resolved with warning letters, requiring no need for further action.
In this case, of course, litigation was necessary but successful. Coffee by Design was able to settle the lawsuit on favorable terms and was even able to win damages. Their victory is a clear signal to other companies to be careful how they market their products. Even three letters can land a company in federal court and obligate them to pay substantial sums.
REPRESENTING THE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS OF OUR CLIENTS
At Eddington & Worley, we understand the hard work you have put into your brand. When another company infringes your intellectual property rights, we take the action necessary to stop it. Don’t let a competitor profit off of the investments you’ve made in your product. If you have questions about trademarks or other intellectual property rights, give us a call today. We can schedule a consultation to discuss your legal options.