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Kraft Foods opens business litigation against Cracker Barrel

If two separate companies have different products with similar trademarked names, should they be able to sell their products in the same market? Newly-filed business litigation between two well-known food brands has begun that may have an impact in Texas as well as the rest of the country on how similarly-titled branded products are sold in grocery stores.

Kraft Foods has been known in grocery stores nationwide since 1957 for its line of Cracker Barrel cheese. The food company is suing the restaurant chain Cracker Barrel Old Country Store for trademark infringement, after the restaurant prepared its own line of food products for the grocery market, the first of which was a spiral cut ham. Although the restaurant's plans for consumer grocery food only included several different types of meat products, Kraft says their cheese brand sales will suffer, if not die completely, if the restaurant doesn't pull its infringing brand.

An attorney for Kraft said the company is trying to protect its Cracker Barrel trademark registration for their grocery products. Consumers may be confused if two different companies have products with similar trademarked names on store shelves. Kraft Foods is worried that any confusion would result in a permanent, negative impact on their long-standing cheese products. A spokeswoman for the Cracker Barrel restaurant says they expect a federal district court judge to rule on a temporary injunction in June.

Business disputes between two large national companies such as these have the potential to determine how future business can be conducted. Will the Cracker Barrel restaurant have to pull their new products from shelves, or will they be allowed to change their brand's name or make some other compromise?

Source: The Lebanon Democrat, "Kraft sues to stall Cracker Barrel growth," Jared Felkins, Mar. 28, 2013

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