Trademark JUST Too Close for Comfort

Trademark JUST Too Close for Comfort

A logo that was once lowercase and in a cursive font became the stuff of a trademark dispute when it was updated in May.

The company Just Goods, which is linked to “teen heartthrob” Jaden Smith and distributes water in a biodegradable packaging, is suing Hampton Creek, which sells mayonnaise, salad dressings and more without animal products, over its logo. Just Goods alleges the logo update violates a 2014 agreement that the Hampton Creek product logo was to remain as is — lowercase and cursive — unless Just Goods gave its permission to make changes.

Per a Bloomberg report, Just Goods reached out to Hampton Creek’s CEO Joshua Tetrick to express its frustration with the logo update and the consumer confusion. The confusion could be particularly detrimental to Just Goods effort to sell its water, and other products in the future, as consumers were associating it with Hampton Creek’s list of controversies.

In 2015, Hampton Creek concluded its fight for the right to call its vegan Just Mayo product just that despite not containing eggs — a required ingredient of mayonnaise to meet the Food and Drug Administration’s legal definition. The FDA ruled that Hampton Creek had to improve its branding so it was clear that this was a substitute product or, more accurately for the FDA, a spread or dressing. This clarification with the government agency came after Hampton Creek had warded off a suit the year before from the company Unilever over this same distinction, which Unilever ended up dropping.

In 2016, Hampton Creek was discovered buying its own products off the shelves in order to boost sales figures. Fifteen executives and other employees headed for the door. At one point, all members of the board left too, leaving behind only the company’s CEO.

Now this summer, Target dealt Hampton Creek yet another blow when it began removing the food products from its shelves over food safety concerns.

While the company’s future is unknown, a San Francisco courtroom to defend itself in Just Goods Inc. v. Hampton Creek Inc., CGC-17-559876 seems like a sure thing.

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