from the flour-town dept
I didn't realize this, but apparently Rochester, NY is nicknamed "The Flour City." You learn so much being a Techdirt writer. Anyway, Rochester became one of the largest flour-producing cities in the world back in the 1800s, which likewise caused a great deal of food-related businesses to spring up in the city as well. Many of those businesses today include "Flour City" somewhere in their names. In fact, something like seventy businesses in Rochester have "Flour City" in their names. Yet, in a brief legal scare, one local business decided that it, and only it, should suddenly control the term for the food business and began sending out cease and desist letters. That is until the backlash became too heavy to handle.
All should be able to breathe a bit easier now that Flour City Pasta appears to be backing off local attempts to enforce the trademark for its name, and exclusivity over "Flour City." A dust-up occurred recently after the Macedon-based company sent cease-and-desist letters to some local businesses in the food service industry, which included Keith Myers and his Rochester-based Flour City Bread Co.Yes, Flour City Pasta was so immeasurably concerned about other companies out of state using the "Flour City" phrase in commerce that it trained its sights first on all the in state businesses doing so. Sorry, that doesn't pass the smell test, unless we're specifically smell-testing for bullshit. What actually happened is that Flour City Bread had started up a crowd-funding campaign to support the business and petition the government to cancel Flour City Pasta's trademark entirely. At that point, the pasta company went limp noodle and ran away.
Flour City Pasta owner Jon Stadt backed off the demands Tuesday morning, adding on a Facebook post that "it was never our intention to harm a fellow merchant, especially one we so respect. Our concern was the threat of out-of-state competition and confusion over our name Flour City Pasta — a brand that we spent five years building and protecting."
But not, of course, before trotting out every trademark bully's favorite excuse.
While the company appears to be backing off local enforcement, it still would likely pursue enforcement from out-of-state interests infringing upon its business, said Nunes [Flour City Pasta's attorney], adding that a petition for a business in Florida has the local pasta company concerned.And they'll probably have a hard time fighting that Florida company on the merits, as it seems that all kinds of food-makers are using the Flour City name already, and have done so for years. And yet, despite all of this common use, these companies have stuck around. It will be interesting to hear why Flour City Pasta thinks the name can be widely used within Rochester but must be protected from companies in Florida. The reality is probably more along the lines that Flour City shouldn't be a trademark in the first place.
"This was the concern from the get-go," he said. "It never was about Rochester. It’s about out-of-state sales. You have to police the market and that is why you have to send out cease-and-desist orders. If you don’t police the market … eventually people will strip you of your rights to the (trademark)."