In September of this year, T.W. Garner Food Co., maker of the Texas Pete line of products including its well-known hot sauce, was sued by Phillip White, a consumer who alleges he was misled by the product name. According to the class action lawsuit filed in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, White purchased the hot sauce in September 2021 for $3.00 and, in making his decision, relied upon the language and images on the front label of the product, believing the product to be a Texas product. He alleges the packaging is adorned with Texan imagery, and T.W. Garner Food Co.’s deceptive practices led it to its market leading position in the hot sauce industry. He further alleges that had he known the product was not made in Texas, he would not have purchased it or would have paid significantly less.
In fact, Texas Pete hot sauce is made in North Carolina. The company’s website tells a story of the origin of the brand and how the name “Texas Pete” was coined. White is seeking monetary recovery as well as injunctive relief in the form of an order requiring T.W. Garner to change its advertising and labeling.
A trademark applicant should be mindful, when choosing a trademark, that can be geographically deceptively misdescriptive, so a review should be made before using a mark that includes a geographic term to ensure that consumers are not misled.
This lawsuit is in the early stages, and T.W. Garner Food Co. has not yet filed a response to the complaint. This case should be heating up soon.
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