“Truth made you a trader, as it often does in a time of scoundrels”

Not Trader John's any more
And it is words such as these that follow that are the first refuge of trademark scoundrels.  If you are a trademark attorney, sit down for this.  This is that sinking-feeling-inducing quote, just those words you don’t want to read that your client, the owner of New York’s Gristede’s food markets who just opened an upscale grocery called “Trader John’s,” told a reporter calling to ask about the lawsuit by the evidently well-known chain of specialty markets called Trader Joe’s:

“My name is John and I am a trader so I don’t know what their problem is,” he said in a telephone interview.

“My name is John and I am a trader.”  These are not only pathetic, but chilling words to the ears of any ethical infringement defense attorney — for they foretell a meeting urging a quick capitulation settlement.  So do these words in the Bloomberg.com article [Update: link is dead; can’t find archive version – RDC]:

The Trader John’s sign and awning on the West 14th St. site are similar to those used by Trader Joe’s and the inside decor mimics the familiar decoration scheme of one of Trader Joe’s stores, the company said. The lawsuit alleges trademark and trade dress infringement, false advertising, deceptive trade practices and unfair competition.

If these facts are accurate, I can promise you this:  There’s much more to this story, but it’s not about intellectual property — it’s about something very personal.  But don’t count on us ever finding out what is!  (Awning tip to Andie Schwartz.)

UPDATE:  More depth, plus pics, from Ryan Gile.  So far, no order on the preliminary injunction / TRO hearing.

AND IT’S OVER:  Pathetic.

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Ron Coleman

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