The following article on a lawsuit brought by King Arthur against Trader Joe's appeared recently at Bakingbusiness.com:
King Arthur sues Trader Joe's for infringement
(Bakingbusiness.com, May 08, 2009)
by Eric Schroeder
PITTSBURGH — Norwich, Vt.-based King Arthur Flour Company, Inc. (KAF) has accused Monrovia, Calif.-based grocery chain Trader Joe’s Co. of trademark infringement in a federal lawsuit filed May 6 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania.
As part of the lawsuit, King Arthur Flour has accused Trader Joe’s of "wrongful sale of flour products under the name ‘Baker’s Pantry’ in packaging that infringes the distinctive trade dress of KAF products, and defendant’s passing off of flour as that of KAF."
In its filing, King Arthur Flour said Trader Joe’s had sold the company’s products for nearly a decade beginning in 1998, and in the last year in which it purchased goods from King Arthur Flour had bought more than $3 million worth of flour products from King Arthur Flour. But in January 2008, King Arthur Flour said it was approached by Trader Joe’s to develop a private label flour, an opportunity that King Arthur Flour refused because it does not produce private label products.
According to the lawsuit, Trader Joe’s stopped buying flour from King Arthur Flour in February 2009 and began selling private label white whole wheat flour and all-purpose flour under the Baker’s Pantry house brand in packaging similar to King Arthur Flour.
"There was no other brand of flour sold by Trader Joe’s after it stopped selling KAF brand flour except the confusingly similar ‘Baker’s Pantry’ flour," the lawsuit claims. "Trader Joe’s packaging for ‘Baker’s Pantry’ copied the color of the KAF packaging, copied the ‘head’ and ‘foot’ bands of color interspersed with a white band that begins less than an inch from the foot of the flour bag.
"In addition to intentionally copying and trying to evoke the color of KAF packaging, Trader Joe’s sells its flour under the name or mark ‘Baker’s Pantry’ in a clear attempt to evoke the KAF’s family of famous ‘Baker’s" trademarks (i.e., ‘Baker’s Catalogue,’ ‘The Baker’s Store’ and ‘Baker’s Companion’).
"Trader Joe’s packaging also evokes KAF branding by its use of lions (to indicate royalty), a form of banner evocative of the medieval times of the legendary King Arthur. This type of medieval banner is widely used by KAF at trade shows and the like and associated with KAF’s flour products."
The lawsuit also alleges that Trader Joe’s employees across the country are regularly advising customers that the Trader Joe’s flour is the same flour as that produced by King Arthur Flour, and that King Arthur Flour is in fact supplying Trader Joe’s under a private label agreement.
King Arthur Flour is seeking a temporary restraining order, as well as preliminary and permanent injunctive relief. In addition, the company is seeking compensatory relief in the form of lost profits and an accounting of Trader Joe’s profits resulting from the trademark infringement.