Idaho lumber company sues NETA for trademark infringement

  • A comparison of the two logos from the lawsuit brought by Boise Cascade Company against New England Treatment Access.  U.S. DISTRICT COURT IN BOSTON COURT FILING

Staff Writer 
Published: 4/19/2019 4:49:18 PM

NORTHAMPTON —  A lumber company based in Boise, Idaho is suing New England Treatment Access for trademark infringement, claiming that the pot company’s logo is “confusingly similar” to its own.

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Boston by Boise Cascade Company, which claims it has been using its “Tree-in-a-Circle” trademarks since 1964.

Both company’s logos feature a circle with what appears to be a tree inside of it, with some variation in design.

Boise Cascade is a wood products business that makes and distributes building materials. Of its 33 distribution centers in the United States, one is in Westfield, and 135 of its 6,000-plus U.S. employees are in Massachusetts, according to the lawsuit. Recreational and medical marijuana dispensary NETA has locations in Northampton and Brookline.

The wood company owns what it calls the “Tree-in-a-Circle” trademarks, and the lawsuit claims NETA’s logo is “often presented in a nearly-identical green” as its own logo. Boise Cascade has been using its logo for more than 55 years, according to the company.

NETA declined to comment on the allegations outlined in the lawsuit.

“We will offer any comments through the judicial process,” Peter Brown, a spokesman for the company, wrote to the Gazette.

According to the lawsuit, the timber company “will suffer and is suffering irreparable harm” due to NETA’s logo, and its “invaluable goodwill is being eroded” by the alleged infringement. The company also claims that the logo is likely to “cause confusion or mistake among consumers as to the origin, sponsorship, or approval” of NETA’s cannabis business.

David Viens, partner at Morrison Mahoney LLP in Boston and the case’s lead attorney for Boise Cascade, commented by email, saying: “Because of the similarity between NETA’s tree-in-a-circle logo and Boise Cascade’s decades-old Tree-in-a-Circle trademarks, Boise Cascade is concerned that NETA’s logo will dilute, weaken, or tarnish the reputation and distinctiveness of Boise Cascade’s Tree-in-a-Circle trademarks.”

“We are nevertheless hopeful that the parties can resolve this dispute,” he wrote.

In addition to alleged trademark infringement, the lawsuit lists other complaints, including injury to business reputation and unfair trade practices. It requests compensation for attorneys’ fees, a jury trial on any triable issues and for NETA to stop using its logo.

The Gazette talked with NETA patrons on Friday at its Northampton store on Conz Street, and many had a variety of interpretations of the logos. Some said they looked similar.

Hayden Cifrino of Northampton said he thought NETA’s logo could be a tree, while Collin Fahey of Quincy saw it as “representative of a nug, a weed nug.”

Of the two logos, Fahey said, “They’re stupidly similar.”

Kurt Harmening of Hartford, Connecticut, sees the logo as a “cross between a spruce and cannabis plant.” Sean Delaney said he couldn’t say for sure what the logo represents, but said he didn’t feel like it would affect anyone’s business.

Greta Jochem can be reached at gjochem@gazettenet.com




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