Panera Bread and the Great Harvest Bread Co. will not be breaking bread together anytime soon. To the contrary, Great Harvest recently filed a trademark lawsuit against Panera over Panera’s “food as it should be” campaign, which is meant to reflect Panera’s philosophy of clean ingredients and menus based on whole foods.
Great Harvest, which has a chain of 200 bakery-cafes (as compared to Panera’s 1,800+ locations), has been using the slogan “it ought to be” since August 2014, almost a year before Panera started its own campaign in June of 2015. While the two slogans are not identical, Great Harvest claims that Panera’s use is similar enough to infringe on Great Harvest’s rights.
Great Harvest argues that a number of the products and services Panera promotes under the “food as it should be” campaign compete with Great Harvest products and services. Great Harvest therefore claims that use of the mark is likely to cause confusion among consumers as to the source of the goods, including “reverse confusion” where consumers may think that Great Harvest is a subsidiary of the larger chain of Panera cafes.
Great Harvest filed an application to register the “it ought to be” slogan with the US PTO in October of 2014, and the registration issued in December of 2015. In February of 2015, Panera applied for its own registrations on “Panera food as it should be” and “Panera Bread food as it should be. Neither of these marks has been registered as of yet.
The case is now pending in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina. Great Harvest Franchising Inc., et al v. Panera Bread Co. Inc., case number 3:16-cv-00121. We will keep a close watch on this one and will report further updates here on Trending Trademarks.