Oregon has its fair share of trademark infringement and business interference claims. These claims are generally considered to be business litigation torts. In a nearby state, two organizations are battling over similar issues in court. One group, a growers’ association, is suing an orchard enterprise, Boa Vista Orchards, on a claim that the orchard is usurping the association’s trademark name and interfering with its business operations.
The orchard was a member of the growers’ association but has been expelled since the controversy developed. The court case, filed by the association in a federal district court in October, is currently awaiting a hearing and a decision on a motion to dismiss filed by the defendant. The fight over use of the growers’ association trademark started in 2013. At that time, the association began to complain about the way in which the orchard was using the association’s name.
The association’s name, Apple Hill Growers Association, is based on a region in Northern California that contains numerous orchards, wineries and tree farms. The association registered the Apple Hill trademark in 1964. The Apple Hill name does not have a geographical significance, the association asserts in its lawsuit. The association also asserts that Boa Vista ceased having any authority to use the name when it was ousted from the association for disloyalty in 2014. Things escalated between the two enterprises when the orchard opened a website calling itself the official site of Apple Hill.
The orchard also purchased a billboard display using the words “Apple Hill Open,” which the association alleged to be a false portrayal of a connection between Boa Vista and its trademark. The association is seeking not only an injunction against Boa Vista but also damages for lost profits and for wrongful use of the trademark. Boa Vista has asserted various defenses to the suit and is asking the court to preliminarily dismiss the lawsuit. Similar business litigation has been known to occur in Oregon, which has its own share of orchards and related business entities.
Source: abc10.com, “Apple Hill Growers suing family business over trademark dispute“, Alexa Renee, Dec. 13, 2017