Bimbo Bakeries wins $2.1m jury award for false advertising and trade secret misappropriation

By Douglas Yu contact

- Last updated on GMT

Bimbo claims the packaging of reintroduced Grandma Emilie's bread resembles its Grandma Sycamore's. Pic: US District Court of Utah
Bimbo claims the packaging of reintroduced Grandma Emilie's bread resembles its Grandma Sycamore's. Pic: US District Court of Utah
A judge for the US district court of Utah awarded Bimbo Bakeries $2.1m in damages after it ruled that United States Bakery (USB) had committed trade secret misappropriation and false advertising.

Bimbo filed the suit against USB in 2013, claiming the company mimicked its Grandma Sycamore’s bread packaging when it reintroduced Grandma Emilie’s bread.

Leland Sycamore of Sycamore Family Bakery created Grandma Sycamore in 1979, and sold it to Bimbo’s predecessor, Metz Baking Company, according to a court document. Sycamore agreed to keep Grandma Sycamore’s trade secrets confidential, including product formulations.

Sycamore

However, USB hired Sycamore’s bakery when it relaunched the former Hostess-owned brand Grandma Emilie’s in 2013.

“The reintroduced Grandma Emilie’s is designed to deceive consumers into purchasing [the brand] … [it] is baked and packaged by defendant Tyler Sycamore, and is sold and distributed by USB,”​ Bimbo argued in the suit.

The company also noted the packaging of Grandma Emilie’s “looked very different from the Grandma Sycamore’s trade dress”​ when it was manufactured by Hostess.

Bimbo said both brands are relatively inexpensive staple food items.

“Consumers of these items are unlikely to use sophistication in the purchase of the products or take much time to discern the small differences between the two,”​ it said.

Bimbo further contended Grandma Sycamore’s trade secret process provides “a competitive business advantage.

“Leland Sycamore disclosed the trade secret process to at least his son, Tyler Sycamore,”​ said the company.

“USB unlawfully obtained access to the Grandma Sycamore’s trade secret process, and [USB] has actual knowledge, or through the exercise of reasonable diligence should have actual knowledge, that reintroduced Grandma Emilie’s is made with the Grandma Sycamore’s trade secret process,” ​Bimbo added.

USB did not immediately comment on the matter. But a court filing showed Sycamore is no longer producing the Grandma Emilie’s products with trade secrets, and it changed the design of the brand.

The jury ruled that USB and Leland Sycamore pay Bimbo around $1.6m and $500k worth of damage respectively.

Neither company responded to this site's request for comment in time for print.

Case:

Bimbo Bakeries USA v. Leland Sycamore and US Bakery

Case No: 2:13-cv-00749

Utah district judge: David Nuffer

Related topics: Grupo Bimbo, Bread, Manufacturers

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