ST. LOUIS (AP) — One restaurant chain that made its name off fresh bakery products is suing another, alleging federal trademark infringement for use of what it calls a confusingly similar advertising slogan.
Great Harvest Bread Co. filed suit Thursday in federal court in Charlotte, North Carolina, against Panera Bread. The suit, filed on behalf of Great Harvest's more than 200 owner-operated stores, claims the company received a trademark in October 2014 for its mantra, "Bread. The Way it ought to be."
The lawsuit says suburban St. Louis-based Panera debuted its "Food as it should be" advertising campaign just eight months later, in June 2015. Great Harvest, based in Dillon, Montana, says the Panera campaign intentionally causes confusion.
"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," Great Harvest president Eric Keshin said in a statement.
Great Harvest said it asked Panera to suspend advertising and promotion that used the phrase, but to no avail. Panera has since sought a trademark for "Food as it should be," and Great Harvest has formally opposed it, Great Harvest said.
The Associated Press left messages seeking comment from Panera representatives on Thursday.
A spokeswoman for Great Harvest says the suit was filed in North Carolina because franchisees there are especially concerned about the alleged infringement.
Great Harvest says it specializes in handcrafted breads with whole wheat purchased from family-owned farms. Panera operates nearly 2,000 bakery-cafes in 46 states and Ontario, Canada, under the Panera Bread, St. Louis Bread Co. and Paradise Bakery & Cafe names.