B.B.U. awarded $2.1 million in trade secret dispute

by Eric Schroeder
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Grandma Emilie’s and Grandma Sycamore’s bread
Jury finds Grandma Emilie’s bread too similar to Grandma Sycamore’s bread.
 

SALT LAKE CITY — A jury in the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah, Central Division, on Oct. 6 awarded Bimbo Bakeries USA $2,105,256 after determining the company suffered damages from trade secret misappropriation and false advertising.

In the filing, the court determined that United States Bakery, Inc. was responsible for $1,578,942 in damages, while Leland Sycamore was responsible for $526,314 in damages. Mr. Sycamore sold his baking business to Metz Baking Co., the predecessor to EarthGrains (later acquired by B.B.U.), in 1998. At that time, Mr. Sycamore agreed not to disclosed confidential information related to Grandma Sycamore's.

The lawsuit dates back to August 2013, when the complaint was raised that US Bakery’s reintroduction of Grandma Emilie’s bread to the market was too similar to B.B.U.’s Grandma Sycamore’s bread. US Bakery had acquired the Grandma Emilie’s brand as part of its acquisition of certain assets of Hostess Brands, Inc., but in reintroducing the product to market US Bakery altered the packaging in such a way that B.B.U. said it infringed on its trademark dress for Grandma Sycamore’s bread.

In the Aug. 7, 2013, filing, B.B.U. indicated that Grandma Sycamore’s bread is made through a proprietary and confidential process known as “Grandma Sycamore’s Trade Secret Process.”

“The Grandma Sycamore’s Trade Secret Process results in the creation of a loaf of bread that is unique because of its combination of size, weight, thickness, non-commercial appearance with a ‘break away’ side, and unique taste,” the lawsuit noted. “The combination of these unique characteristics of Grandma Sycamore’s is responsible in part for the product’s widespread success.”

As a result of the reintroduction of Grandma Emilie’s bread, B.B.U. alleged that the Grandma Sycamore’s trade dress had been diluted.

In the Oct. 6 filing, the jury agreed, saying that US Bakery had engaged in false advertising by using the words “Fresh. Local. Quality.” in connection with the advertising and promotion of its products. The jury also found that B.B.U. had a protectable trade secret and that the defendants had misappropriated a trade secret of B.B.U. 
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