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Coffee Shop: Big Company Has 'Ridiculous' Claim on Word 'Cat'

Cat and Cloud Coffee is pushing back on Caterpillar's trademark infringement claim
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 28, 2019 12:00 PM CDT
In this July 25, 2017, file photo, Caterpillar machinery sits at a dealership in Murrysville, Pa.   (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

(Newser) – The world of copyright and trademark infringement is a tricky one that often involves David vs. Goliath battles—a truth that a coffee shop in Santa Cruz, Calif., is finding out the hard way. KSBW reports that Cat and Cloud Coffee first received a cease-and-desist order last August from none other than construction equipment manufacturer Caterpillar, which doesn't like that the coffee shop is using the word "CAT" (which Caterpillar has trademarked) both in its store name and merch, and it's trying to stop the smaller entity from using it. "It seemed ridiculous," says Cat and Cloud co-owner Jared Truby, pointing out that they're in completely different industries. "So, we responded and got a lawyer, obviously." Coffee blog Sprudge notes that the owners of the cafe appeared in a May 20 podcast in which they said they expected to have to lay out upward of $20,000 to fight Caterpillar, but fight they will.

A petition created to get Caterpillar to back off and "stop bullying Cat & Cloud and other small businesses" has so far amassed more than 9,300 signatures, and poses this speculation: "Suspiciously, Caterpillar Inc. has not taken action against larger brands—like Target and Dr. Seuss Enterprises for their 'Cat & Jack' and 'Cat in the Hat' clothing products, respectively—seemingly because these brands are known to have excellent trademark counsel." Caterpillar has pushed back via a statement to KSBW, noting, "We are not suing Cat & Cloud, not targeting a small business and not focused on Cat & Cloud's primary interest: coffee. We've simply asked the US Trademark Office to remove Cat & Cloud's trademark registration on footwear and apparel only, products for which Caterpillar has longstanding trademarks and a considerable business." (A Burger King-McDonald's trademark story that worked out well for BK.)

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