Is one cursive letter L in a sign enough to trigger legal action? Perhaps not by itself, but the loopy letter, combined with the name and overall logo design of Leevers Locavore, a grocery store that opened last November at 2630 West 38th Avenue, was enough to catch the attention of Wendi Seger, owner of Locavores, a restaurant she opened in Alamosa in 2016.
Seger and her husband own their own farm in the San Luis Valley and also rely on other local and regional farmers and ranchers to supply some of the meats and produce on their restaurant's menu. "My husband and I are potato farmers in the San Luis Valley, and I have also owned and operated a fast-casual restaurant in Alamosa called Locavores since 2016," Seger explains. "A friend in Denver who has been to my restaurant in Alamosa recently texted me about the November opening of Leevers Locavore, wondering if it was affiliated with my business."
The two businesses are completely unrelated, even though the signs and logos bear certain resemblances. "My primary concern in this case is the combination of multiple very similar visual and other elements," Seger adds. "For example, the same name, in the same type of marketplace (Leevers Locavore offers prepared foods), in a nearly identical typeface is, in my view, much more likely to confuse customers than just one overlapping element."
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But are the similarities enough to cause confusion in two cities separated by more than 200 miles? Seger thinks so. "A lot of my customers are from Denver," she notes. "They come through Alamosa to visit the Great Sand Dunes National Park and other outdoor activities in the area. I'm worried about confusion among my customers and, of course, losing the value of my brand, which I built with a ton of sweat equity."
Because of this, Seger has already sent a cease-and-desist letter to Leevers Supermarkets, Inc. through her attorney. "We are asserting common law trademark protection, because I used my primary mark in business in 2016, a full three years before Leevers Locavore opened for business," the Locavores owner points out.
But legal action can be expensive, and Leevers Locavore is owned by a supermarket company with multiple brands in Colorado. Seger worries that their pockets are much deeper than hers. Still, protecting the Locavores name and logo is a priority.
We attempted to contact Leevers Locavore but have not yet received a response.