Monday, April 1, 2013

Purple Cow Creamery Changing Name Due to Trademark Dispute

By Christina Georgiou

The Purple Cow Creamery is being
forced to change the name
to resolve a trademark dispute.
 Downtown Easton's homemade ice cream parlor will be opening for the season this week, but it won't be calling itself "The Purple Cow Creamery" any longer.

Instead, it will open its doors on Thursday, April 4 with a new name, "The Bank Street Creamery". The change is due to a resolution with a Michigan-based corporation that has declared a trademark on the "Purple Cow" name, said business co-owner Lynn Wallen.

Wallen seemed upbeat about the new name in a phone interview Monday afternoon, though she expressed disappointment that the Michigan business threatened legal action over the name she and her family has operated under since 1998.

"There are literally hundreds of ("Purple Cows") across the country," she said.

And indeed, a quick web search turned up many using the name for their ice cream businesses, in a number of states across the nation.

Wallen declined to name the company that threatened legal action, but a quick web search indicates the likely source is Grand Rapids, Michigan-based retailer Meijer, who invested $8 million to expand an ice cream plant in Holland, MI and launched its own "Purple Cow Creamery" brand of ice cream in April of 2012.

Meijer is currently suing a small chain of restaurants in Texas that has used the "Purple Cow" name since 1989, and filed papers in the Northern District of Texas Federal Court in February, claiming trademark infringement.
But fighting the Michigan corporation's claim in court would be costly, Wallen said, and the  small family-owned-and-operated business on Bank Street decided the effort wouldn't be worth the money and hassle a prolonged legal battle would entail, despite the fact that lawyers said the fight would likely be winnable.

Easton's Purple Cow Creamery started getting phone calls demanding they cease doing business under the name last summer, Wallen said, noting that at first, she thought it might be a joke or a hoax.

But when letters arrived, she sought professional legal advice, and ultimately, it was decided a drawn-out dispute would only detract from the attention the family wanted to focus on producing the high-quality ice cream they make at their Easton shop.

"Pretty soon all the companies will be owned by a couple of companies," Wallen said. "It's hard to compete with their volume."

The name "Bank Street Creamery" was settled up after dismissing a few other possibilities, she added.

"We were kind of toying with "The Purple Calf", but that seemed kind of weird," Wallen said.
Marishka Michener, as the popular ice
cream parlour's purple cow mascot.
Contributed photo

Despite the name change, The Bank Street Creamery will still use the locally-familiar purple cow in it's branding, and Wallen's mother, Marishka Michener, will still appear dressed as the creamery's mascot at many local events, as she has for many years now.

"We're going to keep the image," Wallen said.

Also, the shop will still serve its ever-popular "purple cow" ice cream flavor, a black raspberry ice cream with a fudge swirl and raspberry filled chocolate truffle cups, Wallen said.

The creamery's new website is in the works, and when it's complete, a link from the old site will redirect customers to the new one, Wallen said.

"We still own that URL for a few more years," she noted.

The Bank Street Creamery is operated almost entirely by family, with Wallen's brother and sister-in-law, Dean and Melissa Titus, as well as her mother, husband, son and daughter all involved in the day-to-day operation of the popular shop.

Twenty-four flavors will be available when the shop opens for the season on Thursday, including "purple cow" and a new flavor, "beet and berry", Wallen said, adding the family is looking forward to a wonderful summer.

The Bank Street Creamery is located at 15 South Bank St. in Downtown Easton.

For up-to-date information about available flavors and hours, call 610-252-5544 or visit their website.

Updated at 6:31 p.m. to add information about Meijer suing the "Purple Cow" restaurant chain.

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