Corto Olive, L.P., one of California’s leading olive oil producers filed a lawsuit today in United States District Court for the Central District of California against Gemsa Enterprises, LLC for what Corto said is a flagrant commodity knock-off of its 51-49 brand of blended oil.
Gemsa’s attempt to deceive customers into thinking they are buying our product is so flagrant and detailed that we had to take action.
A lawyer representing Corto Olive confirmed the filing and provided a copy to Olive Oil Times. Gemsa did not immediately respond to a request for comments.
“Gemsa’s attempt to deceive customers into thinking they are buying our product, instead of a commodity knock-off, is so flagrant that we had to take action. We are determined to enforce our rights in every instance that a competitor attempts to steal our intellectual property, and we will protect the restaurateurs and foodservice distributors who count on our trademark as the mark of premium olive oil,” said Tom Cortopassi, senior managing partner of Corto Olive.
According to a press statement, Corto sent Gemsa a letter in May 2018 demanding that it halt the use of the 51-49® trademark, but Gemsa failed to take corrective action. Corto first became aware of Gemsa’s use of the mark in May of this year.
“Defendant’s 51/49 Mark is not materially different from Plaintiff’s 51-49 Mark, and Defendant’s use of the 51/49 Mark is likely to cause confusion, mistake or deception of purchasers and potential purchasers as to the origin, sponsorship, or approval of the product,” the filing said.
The packages are remarkably similar, leading Corto to argue that Gemsa intended to cause confusion: “Defendant’s copying and continued use of Plaintiff’s intellectual property is willful, evidenced by the extent to which Defendant has copied not only the 51-49 Mark but also the detail of Plaintiff’s 51-49 Trade Dress.”
Corto asked the court in its filing to stop Gemsa from selling products bearing the brand; order a recall and destruction of the associated Gemsa products; and pay Corto all monetary gains from selling the product, in addition to punitive damages and other relief.