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Judge denies Cracker Barrel appeal

Jared Felkins jfelkins@lebanondemocrat.com • Updated Nov 21, 2013 at 9:05 AM

By Jared Felkins


A federal judge ruled in favor of Kraft over Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Inc. last week in an appeal of a preliminary injunction to deny Cracker Barrel products to be sold in grocery stores.

“…The similarity of logos and of products, and of the channels of distribution (and the advertising overlap) if CBOCS is allowed to sell its products through grocery stores under its Cracker Barrel logo, and the availability to the company of alternatives to grocery stores for reaching a large consumer public under the logo, provide adequate support for the issuance of the preliminary injunction,” wrote U.S. District Judge Robert W. Gettleman in his opinion on the appeal.

Gettleman alluded to the fact that a final ruling in favor of Cracker Barrel could set a precedent for other companies to distribute similarly named items as their competitors.

“It’s not the fact that the parties’ trade names are so similar that is decisive, nor even the fact that the products are similar (low‐cost packaged food items),” Gettleman said. “It is those similarities coupled with the fact that, if CBOCS prevails in this suit, similar products with confusingly similar trade names will be sold through the same distribution channel—grocery stores, and often the same grocery stores—and advertised together.”

The decision, however appears to be a moot point where both Kraft and Cracker Barrel are concerned.

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Inc. officials announced in early October the first shipments of CB Old Country Store licensed products made available through their licensing agreement with John Morrell Food Group, a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods, would ship to grocery stores the following week.

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Inc. and Kraft Foods Group Brands LLC reached an agreement that allows Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc. to enter the marketplace using the alternative logo, CB Old Country Store, to label licensed products.

The products, under the CB Old Country Store brand, include maple and smoked bacon, spiral ham and four types of lunch meat – oven roasted turkey, smoked turkey, smoked ham and honey ham.

"Extending our brand beyond our physical locations is an important component of our strategic plan," said Sandra B. Cochran, Cracker Barrel president and chief executive officer. "As a leader in consumer meat products, John Morrell Food Group has earned an outstanding reputation for quality and service that is a natural fit with our Pleasing People mission. We think the combination of strengths that our two companies consistently utilize to deliver high-quality products to our consumers will prove to be a success for our guests, retail shoppers and our retail trading partners."

"We are delighted to announce that these seven licensed products will arrive in stores later this month," said John Pauley, John Morrell Food Group executive vice president of sales and marketing. "Now loyal guests of Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc. can find the types of choices that they enjoy when they dine in the restaurant, right there in the refrigerated section of grocery stores ready to bring home to enjoy."

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc. does not expect the licensing initiative to have a material impact on its financial results in the 2014 fiscal year.

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