Mike Hallatt, the B.C. entrepreneur behind Pirate Joe’s is appealing to the public for help with legal fees in his battle against popular U.S. grocer Trader Joe’s.
Hallatt’s business model is simple – he re-sells Trader Joe’s products in his Vancouver based store Pirate Joe’s. It’s not a new idea, and it’s not illegal.
He obtains his merchandise by personally making regular trips across the border to Seattle, Washington, where he stocks up on popular Trader Joe’s speciality food items not available in Canada.
Hallatt first ran into legal troubles with Trader Joe’s back in 2013, when the U.S. based grocer sued him for copyright infringement, and false advertising. Trader Joe’s also alleged Pirate Joe’s was hurting its brand.
Pirate Joe’s won that sword fight, and now Trader Joe’s is breaking out the cannons. The U.S. grocer has launched a new claim – alleging Hallatt isn’t handling Trader Joe’s merchandise according to their strict standards.
In response, Hallatt launched this crowdfunding campaign in an effort to fund his prolonged legal battle with the U.S. giant:
Trader Joe’s is trying to force my small grocery store to close its doors by suing us in US Federal District Court – despite the fact that we have done absolutely nothing wrong.
Trader Joe’s v. Pirate Joe’s is one of the most important trademark cases this year. I’m defending the right to re-sell branded products bought at full price. There is a centuries old legal concept commonly called the First Sale Doctrine, which forms much of the foundation upon which I conduct my business. In essence, this doctrine is what allows you to advertise the fact that you are selling a used Ford Explorer without having to get permission from Ford. It defends the right of secondary markets to exist. If I lose this case, it could create a precedent that would affect not only countless consumers, but hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs who operate in a similar way.
Hallatt is hoping to raise $50,000 by June 29, 2017.
Image via Pirate Joe’s