Trader Joe's store

DeFi Trader Joe hit with fresh lawsuit in trademark dispute

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U.S.-based grocery chain Trader Joe’s has headed to court against decentralized finance (DeFi) platform Trader Joe over a long-running trademark dispute.

In a filing, the grocery chain alleges that the DeFi platform infringes on its trademark, given the similarity in names. This time, Trader Joe’s is not only trying to shut down the DeFi platforms but is seeking all the profits made by the platform as compensation.

Trader Joe’s claims that the DeFi platform uses its colors in its logo and operates domain names that resemble the grocery chain. According to the filing, a closer inspection of the DeFi platform’s website reveals the use of the exact “Trader Joe’s mark,” going on to cite multiple instances of potential trademark infringements, including food imagery.

Both parties had a previous face-off back in 2022 after the grocery chain filed a complaint with the United Nations’ World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Still, a spirited defense from the DeFi platform earned it a victory.

At the time, the DeFi project‘s co-founder Cheng Chieh Liu argued that the platform was named after his brother Joe Liu and not after the U.S.-based grocery chain. WIPO ruled in favor of the DeFi platform, stating that the project did not violate any trademarks—although a co-founder disclosed in a blog post a few weeks after the ruling that the project was truly named after the supermarket.

The post fueled a legal rematch, with Trader Joe’s filing a second lawsuit in the U.S. District Court Central District of California.

“When challenged by Trader Joe’s, Defendants committed fraud to obscure that origin story and to prevail in international legal proceedings with Trader Joe’s over the domain name, recognizing that the true story would doom their case and any plausible claim of right to use the domain,” read the filing.

Trader Joe’s argued in their submission that the defendant’s use of the trademarked term was “deliberate,” intended to “cause confusion” and “degrade Trader Joe’s wholesome and high-quality brand and reputation.”

A vandalism-based marketing campaign

Despite multiple letters warning Trader Joe to refrain from using the trademark, the platform undertook a marketing campaign in France during the Paris Blockchain Week. Described as “vandalism-based,” the filing claimed that the DeFi platform indiscriminately pasted branded material on both private and public property around the city.

The filing pointed out that using aliases by the DeFi platform’s staff and registering the company outside the U.S. constitutes evidence of their intention to “operate free of legal consequence.”

Trademark infringement cases have been cropping up across the cryptoverse with Yuga Labs, and several Web3 entities are entangled in trademark legal battles.

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