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Local Grocers Fight Over Name

The independent, family owned Sprouts Natural Market sues the corporate chain stores that recently changed their name to something almost identical.

A local, family-owned grocery store sued a corporate chain that recently changed its name to something almost identical to their own.

is suing a company that is changing the name of several local stores from to Sprouts Farmers Market.

The locally owned company requested an injunction barring the corporation from using the name in the Temecula area, and a hearing is set for Dec. 29, according to court records.

Henry's and Sprouts Farmers Market recently merged, and the company is changing the names of the Henry's stores to Sprouts.

The name is too similar, and this will hurt the local business, the plaintiffs wrote in a court document.

"With nearly identical names, an identical industry and identical target customers, (Sprouts) Farmers' expansion to the region has caused significant confusion and significantly injured the quality of Sprouts' (Natural Market) name," the document states.

"Further expansion will result in increased confusion and injury that cannot be remedied at law. As a family-owned operation with modest means, Sprouts (Natural Market) has no choice but to aggressively protect the name it has built over the past 20 years doing business in the region," it states.

To read the court record, click on the PDF file above.

The local store was founded in 1989 by Temecula residents Linda Watson and her son, Paul Cook, under the name Health Zone Natural Foods. The company changed its name to Sprouts Natural Market and filed a fictitious business name statement in 2001, according to court records.

Vicki November 22, 2011 at 03:05 PM
Maybe they'll be known as Sprouts at the mall rather than old Henry's. There's no competition now and the name change won't make it so. Now if Whole Foods comes to town that may be different but don't see that happening.
BK November 22, 2011 at 04:18 PM
I hear you Vicki. From my understanding the two businesses merged. Since they merged, I would assume that it means they are now "one." With that being said, there is no issue. There are better things to throw their money at than the court system. That holds especially true during this holiday season. Later on I am sure we will feel the pinch as their prices will increase in certain areas thus the consumer pays for their court fees in the end. I'll just make it a personal point to not shop there.
Goldstein November 22, 2011 at 05:14 PM
Ah, trademark litigation. All I can say is "good luck." Been there 19 times before and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of 25 years protecting 13 federally-registered, incontestible trademarks. All I can say is "prove your damages." After your attorney suggests to hire an "expert" to evaluate the diminished name, you'll have spent a minimum of $15,000 for the "expert" (market research consultant.) The attorney will charge you another $15,000 for his "time." You are looking at a minimum of $40,000-$50,000 just to get started. To me, Sprouts is as generic as it sounds. Why don't you ask your customers what they think? Would they really get confused having two sprouts in town?? I would think you will have an uphill battle trying to prove your case. If anything, the new Henry's name change will probably help the Sprouts' family-run business more than hurt it. Injunction will cost you $20,000 right off the bat, and you won't get your legal fees reimbursed. JMHO. The litigation will also eat away from all the time it takes to run your business, much less grow it, and you'll lose some hair, add some grays, and will constantly bicker with your business partners. Is all that negative energy really worth it? You would spend less renaming yourself and rebranding your new name to your existing customer base.
Susan Marsh November 22, 2011 at 06:24 PM
BK, that is exactly the issue. Henry's was bought by Sprouts Farmers Market NOT by the locally owned Sprouts Natural Market. You read the article and then in your comment you made Linda's point. Linda and Paul do not want you to think that they are part of this larger chain. The stores offer some similar products but Sprout's Natural Market offers a much wider selection of organic products in both fresh produce and boxed items. They also have an excellent juice bar not available at Henry's (soon to be Sprouts). Henry's has been bought and sold repeatedly in the last dozen years. It started out as a family owned farmer's type market in the San Diego area. It has changed ownership at least 3 times that I know of in those 12 years. Vicki, it was actually owned by Whole Foods at one point so Whole Foods did come to town. Apparently a lot of people missed it. It was recently owned by Smart and Final. Who knows how long it will be before Sprout's Farmers Market will decide to sell it yet again to another chain.
Mimi November 22, 2011 at 06:34 PM
I shop at both Sprouts and Henrys, but primarily at Sprouts. Especially as Henrys is making changes to their store to become Sprouts Farmers. Their meat now is expensive and looks iffy. I'm not sure what Vicki and BK are talking about by calling it Sprouts at the mall rather than the old Henrys. Huh? Sprouts Natural has nothing to do with the Sprouts that just bought out Henrys, so why should they have to call themselves any thing other than what their name has been since 2001? And because I shop in Sprouts Natural weekly, I see the confusion people are already having with Sprouts Farmers Market. People are in there trying to use their Sprouts Farmers gift cards and then become enraged when Sprouts Natural won't take them. I see them in there with the Sprouts Farmers store ad and then getting annoyed that Sprouts Natural won't honor the prices. I can't tell you how many times I have heard the employees at Sprouts Naturals have to explain to people that they have nothing to do with Sprouts Farmers. It must be terribly annoying day in and day out. And BK, all stores pass of their expenses to consumers, so declaring you won't shop there is useless. What are you going to do? Not shop anywhere? Sprouts Natural is a great place to shop for organic, real food with help from people who know nutrition.
Susan Marsh November 22, 2011 at 06:43 PM
I have nothing against "formerly Henry's", there are very nice people that work there and they do offer organic and natural choices. On the other hand Linda Watson and Paul Cook are members of our community. They live here, raise their families here. They support our community and when they do well and make a profit it stays in our community. Henry's is now owned by Sprouts Farmers Market. Where are they headquartered? Do they live in our community? Where will there profits be spent? Do they support our community? In the current economy it makes sense to shop local, support our local people and keep money in our community. Sprout's Natural Market was here first, they have built a name for themselves in the community. I remember when I first came to the area, Health Zone was the only place to get natural and organic. When I go into Sprouts today, I see the same friendly faces I saw 12 years ago over on Ynez. That is community. Our lives have become so far removed from our food and where it comes. Go into Sprouts, talk to Linda, she always has a smile on her face and is glad to see you. They support our local farmers and small business owners. They sell local food, eggs laid near by, veggies grown on local farms, bread baked in local ovens. When you support Sprouts Natural Market you also support local agriculture and small businesses. Sprouts, Thank you for being part of our community. Thanks for supporting local 4H projects.
Susan Marsh November 22, 2011 at 06:51 PM
Upon further research I found out that Sprouts Farmers Market is the same people who originally owned Henry's. So they may not be selling it off to another big chain. Glad to hear that Henry's is back in the family, hope it stays there but Sprouts was here first, why can't you stay with Henry's? it is a family name.
BK November 22, 2011 at 09:16 PM
Hey Susan, Thanks for the clarity. If it is as you state it to be, I stand corrected. It apparently wasn't spelled out to clearly or I just didn't get it. Again, I stand corrected. Thanks for the education. BK
BK November 22, 2011 at 09:23 PM
You answered your own question relating to what Vicki and I were talking about. You stated that you see the confusion people are already having. From reading what was written, it is quite confusing. To answer your final question, I don't need to shop there or at any store for vegetables or fruit. I grow my own. While all stores do pass off their expenses to the consumer (an I am aware of that), what I also stated is their price increase because of court costs. I know prices increase for various reasons, but for me to pay for their court costs is not something that I want to do. So to answer your question, No I am not going to not shop anywhere, but I will not shop there.
Winchester Collection November 27, 2011 at 12:03 PM
let the small company keep its own idenity. Getting sick of larger companies stepping on the little guy. Who owns the name?????? If you started a search business called Google paper maps you think Google Search engine would be fine with that? Think again. Henrys should give up the change!!!!!!!!!
BK November 27, 2011 at 03:00 PM
Points well taken Susan! Thank you so much for the clarity and education. I really appreciate knowing what is going on with this. I have been in Henry's before but knokw nothing about where one of these other places Sprouts Farmers Market is located. Must not be one within close proximity to me. I will google it and find one to check them out. Although I know I will not shop there, I will still make an effort to check them out.
BK November 27, 2011 at 03:05 PM
I could really care less about a name. There are people attempting to take others to court because they name their child the same name as they have. If you ask me, each of the markets can be named Winchester's Produce Collection. If people will shop there, so be it. If they decide to drive to San Diego to shop at Juan's Fresh Produce because they don't like the smell of Winchester's, that is what they will do. Again, grow you own and you won't have to worry about any of it. I buy bird seed and that is about the size of it. If it is on sale somewhere else, I'll buy it where it is less. That's just being smart. The name means nothing to me.
Victoria October 02, 2012 at 01:36 AM
Who really cares! Linda has high priced items, of which can be found at Henry's for much less. Especially since she cannot afford to discount items due to her overhead.

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