Popular grocer Trader Joe’s filed suit last week in its home state against decentralized exchange (DEX) Trader Joe, alleging federal trademark infringement.
The court filing with the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California reads: “Defendants operate a cryptocurrency platform called ‘Trader Joe’ and use the domain name traderjoexyz.com. Defendants named the platform ‘after the supermarket’ — none other than Trader Joe’s — and developed a narrative around a fictionalized ‘Trader Joe’ who sells his crops in the local marketplace, further evoking Trader Joe’s business and brand.”
The Trader Joe DEX platform was launched in 2021 and operates on the Avalanche blockchain network.
Trader’s Joe’s initially tried to stop the crypto firm from using the domain name traderjoexyz.com last year. The grocer filed a complaint with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), accusing Trader Joe of capitalizing on the grocery chain’s name. The case was dismissed after Cheng Chieh Liu, a co-founder of the DEX platform, was successful in arguing that the platform was actually named after his brother, Joe Liu.
However, a Substack newsletter from cryptofish, another co-founder of Trader Joe, later noted, “With no name for the DEX yet, [we] just named it Trader Joe, after the supermarket.”
This led Trader Joe’s to its new complaint with the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The retailer is alleging that the cryptocurrency platform“committed fraud” by muddling its origin story to win legal proceedings over the domain name.
“To salvage their case, defendants concocted a false story. In the WIPO proceeding, defendants obscured the true beginnings of the ‘Trader Joe’ name and falsely claimed that the platform had been named for the co-founder’s brother,” the filing alleges.
The retailer is seeking damages and demanding a trial by jury.
In July, Trader Joe’s also filed a lawsuit in a Los Angeles court to stop a union from using a logo deemed too similar to its own official logo. The grocer claimed that the Trader Joe’s United imagery represents copyright infringement. The retailer took the legal route after the union refused to comply with a request earlier this year to remove the contested logo.
With more than 500 stores in 40-plus states, Monrovia, Calif.-based Trader Joe’s is No. 27 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. PG also named the company one of its Retailers of the Century.