Resolution to Trademark Suit Reminds Businesses of the Importance of Pre-Litigation Representation

As San Francisco small business attorneys, the Brod Law Firm is committed to helping our clients achieve the results they expect in all business interactions. The recently reported resolution to a dispute between a large corporation and a smaller, local organization is a reminder that often the best result is one that avoids litigation. We will always be zealous advocates for our clients in court, but we are also committed to helping avoid trial whenever possible while still providing a positive result.

The Oakland Tribune recently reported on the successful resolution of a dispute between Kellogg Company and Maya Archaeology Initiative (“MAI”), a small organization based in Walnut Creek that seeks to protect the history and culture found in Northern Guatemala. Both the MAI and the Froot Loops line, owned by Kellogg, use a toucan in their logo. This overlap led to a dispute with Kellogg’s legal team demanding that MAI stop using the toucan symbol, suggesting the logo was too similar to the Froot Loops toucan and violated the company’s trademark. This week, the organizations announced that the dispute had been resolved without litigation and that Kellogg would be contributing $100,000 to MAI’s initiatives. Further, Kellog agreed to promote knowledge of the Mayan culture on future cereal boxes and to include the web address for MAI.

As Oakland small business attorneys, we understand that the threat of a lawsuit is frightening to business owners. This is particularly true when the dispute pits a small, local organization against a very large corporation with access to greater financial resources. It is important for local business owners to seek counsel as soon as a potential dispute arises so that all options can be discussed. Our team is dedicated to pursuing all forms of dispute resolution on behalf of our small and medium sized business clients.

The first step in resolving a dispute is often negotiation. Our attorneys can help resolve legal disputes for small businesses by representing the business owner in conversations and correspondence before the dispute escalates to trial. Legal counsel is vital in these discussions. As business attorneys, we can ensure that our clients are not taken advantage of and that their interests are protected fully and fairly. Knowing your legal rights is essential to reaching a resolution that is fair and protects the rights and interests of area business owners.

If negotiation fails to resolve the matter, the Brod Law Firm can also represent Oakland businesses in alternative dispute resolution. In mediation, we represent our client as the opposing sides try to reach a voluntary settlement with the help of a trained neutral mediator. These facilitated discussions can often reach resolutions that the companies were unable to arrive at without the help of a neutral party and can be particularly helpful when the companies wish to maintain a future working relationship. Another type of alternative dispute resolution is arbitration. This is more akin to traditional litigation, with an arbitrator handing down a ruling on the case rather than the parties finding agreement on their own, but can help keep costs in check and provide a faster resolution than our busy court system. It should also be noted that many business contracts contain clauses mandating arbitration instead of litigation should a dispute arise.

The solution reached by Kellogg and MAI allowed the companies to resolve their dispute without trial. We serve as legal counsel for Oakland business disputes. We are always prepared to pursue trial if necessary, but we understand that avoiding trial can often produce the best results. Even when disputes are resolved outside of a courtroom, legal counsel is vital to protecting the interests of a small business, particularly when faced with a dispute involving a large company that certainly has the benefit of its own attorneys. Engaging an attorney ensures that small businesses are protected and can remain a vital part of our economy and our community.

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