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US Supermarket Trader Joe’s Takes Legal Action Against Crypto Project Over Name Resemblance

Sead Fadilpašić
Last updated: | 2 min read
Source: AdobeStock / Refrina

Popular US supermarket chain Trader Joe’s has sued decentralized exchange (DEX) Trader Joe for federal trademark infringement.

According to the filing, the DEX’s branding is designed to allow it to profit from the supermarket’s reputation by “causing confusion as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement” of the DEX’s website and services.

The crypto project neither asked for nor received Trader Joe’s permission to name their platform after the grocery shop chain, it said.

Trader Joe’s sent Trader Joe several cease-and-desist letters since September 2021, but the latter “failed to respond, let alone comply.”

Trader Joe’s seeks to shut down Trader Joe, statutory and punitive damages, cost of suit, attorneys’ fees, and other relief.

Trader Joe’s also asks for a jury trial.

Alleged Theft of Intellectual Property

Trader Joe has violated a number of Trader Joe’s intellectual property rights, says the suit.

The DEX uses the domain name traderjoexyz.com, and has also registered trader-joes.site and trader-joe.website.

Imagery is also deliberately similar, the company alleges, evoking Trader Joe’s business and brand, the company said, adding:

“An image of “Trader Joe” donning a red cap (the famed color of Trader Joe’s logo, store motifs, and memorabilia) serves as the platform’s avatar.”

There is also a Trader Joe app, enabling users to consume the platform’s goods and services under the “Trader Joe” name.

Trader Joe also operates a number of social media sites under the same name to publicize the platform and promote its services. These include Twitter/X, Reddit, Github, LinkedIn, Substack, Telegram, and Discord.

‘My Brother Joe’

Trader Joe “engaged in fraud” to hold onto the platform and domain name as long as possible, the suit alleges.

“Defendants committed fraud to obscure that origin story and to prevail in international legal proceedings with Trader Joe’s over the domain name, recognizing that the true story would doom their case […].”

This refers to last year’s failed attempt to shut the DEX down.

In May 2022, Trader Joe’s filed a complaint with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) against Trader Joe. The latter subsequently claimed that the platform had been named for the co-founder’s brother.

“Based on those representations—now known to be false—WIPO denied Trader Joe’s complaint […]”

Weeks later, a cofounder who operates under the alias “cryptofish” wrote on Substack that the platform had, in fact, been named “after the supermarket,” revealing that it had misled WIPO, Trader Joe’s said.

Source: Trader Joe’s Complaint 2-23-CV-8395

The DEX’s intentional use of Trader Joe’s mark, said the supermarket, shows that the infringement is deliberate and designed to lead to confusion and financial benefit.

Trader Joe DEX, operating on Avalanche, BNB Chain, Arbitrum, and Ethereum, has $22.1 million in total value locked, per DeFiLlama – down from $2.59 billion seen in December 2021.