Milwaukee — Two Wisconsin grocers are poised for battle over the use of a logo shaped like a highway sign to promote locally made products.
At odds are Metcalfe Inc., operator of two supermarkets in the Madison area and one in Wauwatosa, and larger chain Festival Foods. Both, according to Metcalfe, have been using logos with the badge shape of a U.S. highway marker to market such items as blue cheese from Shullsburg, tortillas from Watertown, pasties from Green Bay and locally grown, 98-cents-a-pound green beans.
But Metcalfe says it got there first and owns a trademark on the badge design with the words “Food Miles” or “Wisconsin Food Miles” — intended to show shoppers that their bacon and bratwurst didn’t travel far to the store.
In a lawsuit filed this week in federal court in Madison, Metcalfe accuses Festmark Inc., which does business as Festival, of pirating the concept and infringing on Metcalfe’s trademark.
According to the complaint, Festival has been promoting its local products with a badge-shape logo that says “Festival Foods / Locally Grown.”
That logo, Metcalfe says, is “confusingly similar” to Metcalfe’s trademarked image. The firm is asking a judge to order Festival to stop using its logo and pay Metcalfe unspecified damages for what Metcalfe alleges is “intentional, deliberate and willful” infringement on its trademark. A Festival spokesman could not be reached for comment. Festival, based in De Pere and Onalaska, operates 25 supermarkets, including four that opened this year. Metcalfe said in its complaint that it has been using one of the “road sign marks” since 2010 and the other since 2011. The firm filed for trademarks on them in May.