Out with the old, in with the new? Not for McCormick, whose latest trademark move is instead advocating for pushing out the “new” and sticking with the “old.”
According to recent trademark registration filings made this year, McCormick, the owner of the established Old Bay seasoning brand, has been pushing to stop a different brand from putting out an organic spice by a name that may come too close for comfort.
In November 2017, Primal Palate, a paleo-advocating blog that offers a variety of paleo food offerings, filed a trademark registration application with the US Patent & Trademark Office for “New Bae,” in International Class 030 for “Organic Spices.”
Although the application for registration was filed in November, Primal Palate had noted that they had been using the New Bae mark since August 2017. It introduced the New Bae spice in October 2017 as part of its Food Lovers Pack, along with two other spices, Amore and Jerk Seasoning.
According to the announcement, the creators came up with the name after deciding to “make a bay seasoning[,] but call it Bae” instead. They then explained that “Bae” was short for “Before Anyone Else, and is a name for your boyfriend or girlfriend”—with a winking emoji included at the end. The seasoning, as noted by the creators, is intended to be used on potatoes, chicken, popcorn and crab legs.
Meanwhile, McCormick-owned Old Bay has been a popular seasoning for around 75 years. The seasoning is well known by lovers of seafood, as it is regularly used to season crabs. However, as Old Bay claims, the seasoning can be used for a number of things, including “Crab. Salmon. Scallops. You name it, it’s a match.” Although the brand was not originated under McCormick, the company acquired the Old Bay product line in 1990, and has since expanded the brand into other lines, including a variety of seasoning packets and sauces.
Given its history, it should then come as no surprise to many that Old Bay wouldn’t get along with New Bae. McCormick filed an opposition to the New Bae trademark registration application earlier this year, citing a number of its own trademark registrations as a basis to claim that Primal Palate was diluting the famous Old Bay mark and that there is a likelihood that both the Old Bay and New Bae marks could be confused with one another. In fact, it alleges that Primal Palate “intended to create an association with [McCormick’s] Old Bay” trademark in order to “capitalize on its established fame, public recognition, and goodwill.”
Is this just another case of old bae being salty over new bae, or does McCormick have a point here?
Defenders of the New Bae seasoning may point out that “bae” and “bay” have entirely different meanings. “Bae,” as defined by Merriam-Webster, is in fact common slang for “sweetheart, baby,” while “bay” is commonly used to refer to a small body of water. The point of potential confusion here is the phonetic pronunciation of both of those words, which could be heard as identical to one another.
This, under the likelihood of confusion standard, would be enough to establish that the two names could be confused for each other. As for McCormick’s claim that Primal Palate intentionally wanted New Bae to capitalize on the recognition of Old Bay, Primal Palates maintained yesterday in an Instagram post that “the way [they] named it was meant to differentiate it” from Old Bay, they also acknowledged in the same post that the “blend is of course a nod to Old Bay.”
Can New Bae triumph over Old Bay, or will Old Bay manage to push New Bae out of the picture? If Old Bay is successful, they seek to pull the New Bae seasoning out of the US market, destroy all materials that bear the “New Bae” mark, and recover costs and damages from Primal Palate. We’ll have to wait and see if things get too hot in the kitchen for New Bae!
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When we started Primal Palate Organic Spices, our goal was to help make healthy cooking easier for everyone. We wanted to create a product that would eliminate the stress and effort of bringing healthy meals to the table. Even though we were advised against it, we believed strongly that we should disclose all of our ingredients, so that you as the consumer would be able to know exactly what’s fueling your body. # With that in mind, we need to be transparent with you all again. McCormick has filed a trademark lawsuit against us for our New Bae Seasoning. Our blend is of course a nod to Old Bay, since we are always striving to offer organic, healthy options for our audience, and provide full transparency with ingredients. We do not see any merit to their claims, as we feel like it’s far from likely to confuse customers, and our blends are also very very different. In fact, the way we named it was meant to differentiate it, not to mention we don’t even know what the ingredients are in Old Bay.
We’re going to stand by our right to market this organic blend, and continue to offer all of you healthy, organic, flavorful spice blends. We hope you all will support us during this time, and help us #saveNewBae