Quaker Oats Battle over Quaker "Oaks"

The Quaker Oats Company recently filed against the Christmas tree farm Quaker Oaks for trademark infringement. The Christmas tree organisation, based in California and managed by the Orange County Friends Meeting, received a cease-and-desist letter from the Oat brand’s owner PepsiCo, asking them to cease infringing upon their trademark by using the name “Quaker Oats”.  The letter, posted online by Quaker Oaks, stated that the organisation’s similarly named brand would confuse their customers and have a negative impact on their brand.

William Lovett, as a representative of the oak farm, responded to this accusation by explaining that their organisation’s name had been spelled incorrectly in PepsiCo’s letter and that they used the Quaker Oaks name because they are in fact managed by quakers and their religious services take place under an oak tree. He went on to say “I suspect that your firm employs considerably fewer, if any, Quakers. My guess is that you may be selling far more Lutheran oats, Methodist oats, or maybe atheist oats. Could your company be guilty of product source misrepresentation?” The letter concluded with an invitation to visit the farm to prove its authenticity and that if they were to visit  in December that they would gladly sell them a Christmas tree.

A trademark is a worthwhile investment as it will protect your brand and allow you to enforce your trademark rights over other companies that may infringe upon your mark. However, you should always be certain that another company is infringing upon your brand before taking any action against them. Trademark infringement only occurs when a brand with a similar name and similar goods or services is trading in your territory. If the brand only has a similar name or logo but produces different goods or services then they are not infringing on your trademark rights. If in doubt, it is advisable to consult a trademark lawyer who would be able to help you choose the best course of action and confirm if there is a case of infringement.

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