Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Sweet Leaf Tea files declaratory judgment of noninfringement against maker of SweetLeaf Stevia sweetener

The Austin Business Journal ran an article today (link here) on a lawsuit filed by the Sweet Leaf Tea Company (“Sweet Leaf Tea”), a producer of a line of ready-to-drink teas marketed under the name Sweet Leaf Tea, against United American Industries, Inc. (“UAI”), which does business under the tradename Wisdom Natural Brands and sells a brand of stevia sweetners (a natural sugar substitute) under the design mark SWEETLEAF (for nutritional supplements).

Sweet Leaf Tea received a cease-and-desist letter from UAI demanding that Sweet Leaf Tea stop using the mark Sweet Leaf on its beverage products.

Facing the imminent threat of a trademark infringement lawsuit, Sweet Leaf Tea opted to fight the battle on its own turf and filed a lawsuit seeking a declaratory judgment of noninfringement. See Sweet Leaf Tea Company v. United American Industries, Inc., Case No. 08-cv-00441 (W.D. Tex. May 29, 2008).

Having never filed for any applications to register its mark with the USPTO, Sweet Leaf Tea is relying upon its common law rights to use the name Sweet Leaf, which it has been using since 1998 for its ice teas, as well as a laches argument against UAI. On April 16, 2008, Sweet Leaf Tea filed two applications to register the mark SWEET LEAF (for ice tea and lemonades).

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