In a battle of the buy-side Joe’s, beloved retail chain Trader Joe’s is taking its rebellious faux-brethren Pirate Joe’s to the open waters of court. Set to meet in U.S. courts this November, Pirate Joe’s is aiming to dodge the popular American chain’s trademark violation claims, now turning to interesting methods to do so.
Pirate Joe’s has turned to popular crowdfunding campaign platform Crowd Justice in efforts to raise $250,000, which the company and its founder, Mike Hallatt, will use to defend itself in court.
“It’s the biggest bet in my life,” said Hallatt, according to The Guardian. “Everybody in my world is telling me to quit, and yet customers are coming in and saying: ‘Oh my god, I’ll support you.’”
For those unfamiliar with this Canadian-based brand, Pirate Joe’s has been making headlines for purchasing Trader Joe’s goods, smuggling them across the border into Vancouver, and then reselling them.
Hallatt stated to source The Guardian that he has spent over $1 million at Trader Joe’s locations in the U.S. in order to bring the American chain’s wares to those without access in Vancouver.
Pirate Joe’s was sent a cease-and-desist letter almost immediately after opening its doors in 2012, and then followed suit with a trademark case. This case was ultimately dismissed in 2013 as Aldi-owned Trader Joe’s doesn’t have shops or offices in the country, however, a ninth circuit decision brought the case back to life.
“Just opening the door to trademark owners to sue in US courts for acts that occurred abroad and to be able to survive a motion to dismiss is huge,” said Christine Farley, a Professor at American University Washington College of Law. “The ninth circuit has essentially rolled out the red carpet for Trader Joe’s to make the claim and now the ball is in their court. They have to figure out how to do it with this quirky set of facts.”
Hallatt, for his part, has always been upfront to his customers and any inquiring parties that he is an unauthorized retailer. Hallatt stated that he started his store for those that do not have the documentation, money, or time to cross the border to the closest Trader Joe’s shop, nearly 55 miles from Vancouver.
Several analysts confided to The Guardian that no matter how interesting the case is, it will hinge on whether or not Hallatt can secure the funds to defend himself.
Will this court case be brought to fruition? Deli Market News will have all the latest.