A David and Goliath lawsuit is shaking out between a small Georgia-based meal kit company and retail giant Target (TGT).
Emily Golub, the owner of Garnish & Gather, filed her complaint on Nov. 8 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against Target Corp. and Target Brands. Her complaint alleges that Target’s newly launched flagship food brand Good & Gather is infringing on her copyright, creating confusion in the marketplace, and infringing on the specific Garnish & Gather word mark.
The complaint asserts that “Target has engaged in willful and blatant copying of G&G's trademarks, business model and logo imagery such that it will cause the public to believe falsely that G&G is the source of Target's food products and/or services, or that such food products and services are endorsed or sponsored by, or otherwise associated or affiliated with G&G.”
Golub, speaking on Yahoo Finance’s YFi AM, said she never wanted the dispute to get this far.
“Honestly, I would hope that we can have a discussion with Target before getting there,” she said. “I never wanted to take this to court or have a legal battle with Target. I just wanted to grow the brand that I worked so hard for the past six years to protect and to have. And I would hope that Target would take responsibility and come to the table and have a reasonable discussion about how we can resolve this.”
Garnish & Gather launched in 2012. Golub claimed that since Target launched Good and Gather in August 2019, there has been increased brand confusion for her customers.
“When we found out about the launch of Good and Gather in mid-August, we sent a letter to Target and let them know about the infringement,” she said. “And unfortunately, Target really hasn't taken this matter seriously. [Target] let us know that they would be happy to help us out with some search engine optimization, and unfortunately, that's just not acceptable. This is the future of our brand, and the brands and marks are just way too similar. So it's disappointing.”
Golub filed for a temporary restraining order against Target on Nov. 11, but the request was denied on Nov 22.
‘They’re incredibly similar’
While Garnish and Gather is a meal kit company, Target’s Good and Gather offers various products like frozen fruit, bagged salads, and fresh produce. Golub told USA Today that she identified about 50 products that overlapped between the two businesses.
In a statement to Yahoo Finance, Target said: “At Target, we have a deep appreciation and respect for trademarks. We're aware of this lawsuit and are confident that Target's brands, including Good & Gather, are distinctive in the marketplace. We've shared that feedback with Garnish & Gather and will continue to defend these claims through the legal process.”
In response, Golub argued that “if you look at Good and Gather and Garnish and Gather they're incredibly similar. While the brands and logos themselves are not identical, we're really concerned about the words. We're a word of mouth business. And so we don't have the resources to be advertising on billboards or in magazines. Everybody hears about us through word of mouth. And so when you're saying these words Good and Gather and Garnish and Gather, G and G, they're incredibly similar.”
And so while Golub hoped that the dispute could be resolved, she is increasingly concerned about the survival of her small business in the face of a massive rival.
“We are really worried about what this looks like for us in a year from now, once Target's been able to pump millions and millions of dollars into making this their flagship brand,” Golub said. “Where does that leave us? It's really challenging and it just feels like all of our growth is really in jeopardy.”
She added that her company had been considering expanding in the southeast, including Nashville, because “we have customers in those markets who would be excited that we were there and excited to support us and tell all their friends about Garnish & Gather coming to town.”
But those customers seeing Good and Gather at their local Target, “it's bound to be very confusing,” Golub said. “And it just really makes our ability to grow and support our company really challenging.”
Ashley is a production assistant for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @actuallynelson.