ATLANTA — Flowers Bakeries Brands, Inc., Thomasville, Ga., filed suit July 23 against Interstate Bakeries Corp. for alleged "trademark infringement, unfair competition, trademark dilution and injury to business reputation and deceptive trade practices."
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, stems from an Aug. 7, 2007, intent-to-use application submitted by Kansas City-based I.B.C. with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for a line of new packaged bread, bun and roll products under the Nature’s Pride and Nature’s Choice names.
Since 1976, Flowers Foods has produced a line of products under the Nature’s Own trademark, and, according to Flowers, I.B.C.’s intended use of the Nature’s Pride and Nature’s Choice names "is likely to cause confusion and to deceive consumers and the public."
In its filing, Flowers said the Nature’s Own mark "has achieved significant fame and public recognition in connection with high-quality bakery goods. Because of its widespread use in the food service and retail grocery industry, the Nature’s Own mark has tremendous power as a source identifier.
"The Nature’s Own mark became famous and distinctive long before (I.B.C.’s) activities described herein, and the Nature’s Own mark continues to serve as an indicator of the source of goods provided by, licensed by, or otherwise affiliated with Flowers."
Further, Flowers said that based on what it knows about the proposed I.B.C. products, the possible positioning of the goods side by side on grocery store shelves is likely to cause confusion among consumers.
"(I.B.C.’s) use of the Nature’s Pride and Nature’s Choice marks in connection with the marketing, manufacture, distribution and sale of its soft bakery goods is likely to deceive, confuse and mislead prospective purchasers and purchasers into believing that (I.B.C.’s) unlicensed and unauthorized goods were produced or authorized by or in some manner associated with Flowers," Flowers said. "The likelihood of confusion, mistake and deception engendered by (I.B.C.’s) unauthorized and unlicensed use of the Nature’s Pride and Nature’s Choice marks is causing and is likely to continue causing irreparable harm to Flowers."
Maya Pogoda, a spokesperson for I.B.C., said, "I.B.C. believes that Flowers’ lawsuit is completely without merit and the company intends to vigorously defend its position."