Great Harvest, Panera in spat over slogan

Great Harvest Bread Co. has filed a lawsuit against Panera Bread Co. alleging the St. Louis-based company of federal trademark infringement.

The lawsuit, which was filed March 10 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina on behalf of Great Harvest’s more than 200 owner-operated stores, claims Panera’s use of the slogan “Food as it should be” is too similar to Great Harvest’s “Bread. The way it ought to be” slogan.

According to the lawsuit, Great Harvest Bread began to use the slogan “Bread. The way it ought to be,” in August 2014. The company applied for and was granted a combined service mark/trademark for its mark on a variety of goods and services, including bread, flour, franchising services, retail bakery shop services, bakery services and restaurant and cafe services. In June 2015, Panera began using the slogan “Food as it should be” to promote its products and services, a move Great Harvest said was undertaken to “create confusion, deception and mistake in the minds of both plaintiff’s consumers and potential consumers and defendant’s consumers and potential consumers.”

“We need to protect the investment being made by our individual small business owners from being drowned out or overrun by a multi-million dollar national advertising campaign,” said Eric Keshin, president of Great Harvest.

Based in Dillon, Mont., Great Harvest has more than 200 bakery franchises across the United States. The company is engaged in the development, marketing, advertising, distribution and sale of various products and licensed franchise services, including retail bakery shops, baked goods, restaurants, bakery goods and related goods and services. St. Louis-based Panera is a national bakery-cafe concept with 1,880 company-owned and/or franchise-operated bakery-cafe locations in 45 states.

Great Harvest Bread said it sent Panera a cease-and-desist letter in relation to the slogan on Oct. 23, 2015, but has been “unsuccessful in preventing the continued violation of its rights.”

“Defendant’s infringing activities are likely to cause and actually are causing confusion, mistake and deception among members of the trade and the general consuming public as to the origin, affiliation, sponsorship and quality of defendant’s infringing goods and services,” the lawsuit said.

Panera did not respond to a request for comment.