David and Goliath legal dispute over cauliflower thins settled after mediation

By Elaine Watson contact

- Last updated on GMT

David and Goliath legal dispute over sandwich thins settled after mediation

Related tags: cauliflower thins, sandwich thins, Bimbo bakeries usa, Outer Aisle Gourmet

A year after cauliflower-fueled startup Outer Aisle Gourmet accused bakery giant Bimbo Bakeries USA of hardball tactics in a David vs Goliath-style lawsuit over ‘sandwich thins,’ the case has been dismissed with prejudice, with the two parties agreeing to a settlement.

The parties – who entered into a mediation process late last month - cannot discuss the settlement, the terms of which are confidential.

However, court documents show that the odds were against the smaller company, with Bimbo Bakeries USA threatening to countersue, and a judge striking down one of the claims in Outer Aisle’s complaint in February.

The dispute began last year when Outer Aisle​ learned that its cauliflower sandwich thins had been delisted by Amazon following complaints by Bimbo accusing the smaller company of infringing a ‘sandwich thins’ trademark assigned to Bimbo subsidiary Arnold Sales Company in 2009.

In a lawsuit filed last spring accusing Bimbo of unfair competition​, Outer Aisle alleged that Bimbo had deployed more hardball tactics, instructing “at least one of Outer Aisle’s brick and mortar distributors” ​​to remove Outer Aisle’s cauliflower sandwich thins.

Bimbo in turn accused Outer Aisle Gourmet of “willful infringement​​” of its sandwich thins trademark, and dismissed as "nonsensical​" the startup's arguments that Bimbo’s “failure to police” ​​the mark over the years meant it had effectively abandoned its rights to it.

‘Behind the scenes ambush’

At the time, ​Outer Aisle Gourmet founder and CEO Jeanne David told FoodNavigator-USA that the legal action was necessary to “reverse Bimbo’s surprise, behind-the-scenes ambush of Outer Aisle’s Amazon store causing Outer Aisle’s sandwich thins listings to be taken down, while Bimbo was, at the same time, introducing its own cauliflower sandwich thins product under its Oroweat label.​​”

However, ​Kevin Bell, IP expert and partner at law firm Arnall Golden Gregory, told us that Outer Aisle faced “an uphill battle​" given that Bimbo had been using the term 'sandwich thins' since 2009 and had "taken reasonable steps to protect"​ its IP.

*The case is Outer Aisle Gourmet LLC v Bimbo Bakeries USA, Inc; Arnold Sales Company, LLC, and Does 1-10. Case 2:21-cv-02599.  

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