Facing Off Against an Outsized Opponent
Martensen IP helped a Montana ranch overcome opposition to get vital trademarks for its bison jerky business.
Obtaining Trademarks Secures a Path Forward for a Bison Jerky Producer
Go Roam Free is a bison ranch in Montana that produces bison jerky and other products from herds raised as close to wild as possible. The company practices what is known as “regenerative farming,” meaning it has minimal interaction with the animals on its 300,000-acre ranch. Its animal care experts primarily thin the herd to keep the number of animals at a healthy level. The products they then produce are, as they like to say, “meat you can feel good about.”
With delicious jerky recipes and commendable processes for managing their bison herd, all the company needed was trademark protection to forge ahead and grow its business. However, securing that protection proved to be more difficult than expected.
The Problem: A Large Company Pushes Back on the Trademark Application
The examiner who reviewed the trademark application for “Go Roam Free” was aware of another company with a similar mark but felt the two were sufficiently different and approved the application. The multinational meat producer that holds the other mark disagreed and filed their opposition to the new mark, claiming it would create confusion among consumers.
This became an “existential crisis” for Go Roam Free—a small company for whom the time, effort, and cost of rebranding might threaten its viability.
Martensen IP’s Solution: Research the Opponent and Demonstrate Willingness to Fight for Our Client
In our discovery process, we learned some interesting things about the large company that opposed Go Roam Free’s trademark application. This included that while their animal-raising practices meet legal guidelines, the “court of public opinion” might have a different take on the notions of “freedom” and “roaming” in their existing trademark—given that their animals are only free to move more than a foot or two for a very small percentage of their life.
We also discovered that the opposing party had worked very hard to get their trademark granted. Their application had been rejected multiple times until they finally got it in front of an examiner who approved it.
As we made clear to the other company and its legal counsel, we were happy to explore those issues further in a court case on behalf of a client that truly does allow its animals to roam free, and to let the proceedings become part of the public record. In fact, while we work with clients of all sizes, the fact that this one was small and at risk of being bulldozed by a much larger entity made us more than happy to lead the way to a fair resolution.
In the end, the opposing party relented and our client was granted several trademarks that have enabled them to move ahead confidently with their business. What’s more, our strategy of identifying and potentially bringing to light some uncomfortable truths about the opposing party’s operations kept them from using their financial resources to drag out the process and drain our client’s financial resources.
Today, a company that produces meat you can feel good about has trademark protection that they can feel good about.