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California Central District Court Tote-ally Tossed Trader Joe’s Lawsuit for Trademark Infringement


March 1, 2024

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Amidst an ongoing labour dispute, American grocery-store chain, Trader Joe’s, reportedly filed a lawsuit against its employee union, Trader Joe’s United, for using its name and logos on tote bags, buttons, t-shirts and other items sold on the Union’s website in connection with its campaigns.


Trader Joe’s claimed the merchandise caused confusion amongst customers, reputational harm, and diluted its family of trademarks.


In dismissing the suit in its entirety, U.S. District Judge Hernan Vera held there was “no likelihood for confusion” given the logos on the Union’s campaign-related products used different fonts, did not include the fruit basket design that is characteristic of the Trader Joe’s logo, and applied parallel rings of differing proportions on products “that no reasonable consumer could confuse as coming from Trader Joe’s itself.”


In fact, the Judge went as far to state that, “it strains credulity to believe that the present lawsuit—which itself comes dangerously close to the line of Rule 11 [being frivolous and improper]—would have been filed absent the ongoing organizing efforts that Trader Joe’s employees have mounted (successfully) in multiple locations across the country.”


The suit was a win in the bag for Trader Joe’s United, which reportedly shared the decision was "a vindicating and joyous occasion" for the Union.

 

Authors: Ayesha Khanna and Kasia Donovan

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