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South African ecommerce store Yuppiechef has commented on its trademark battle with Yuppie Gadgets, another SA online establishment. Memeburn reached out to Yuppiechef for its side of the story, which saw CEO and co-founder Andrew Smith responding.
The cases came to light over the weekend when Yuppie Gadgets published a blog post on their website about the cases. “We beat them at the Western Cape High Court and now Yuppie Gadgets beat Yuppiechef in a HUGE case at the Supreme Court,” reads the post.
In Yuppiechef’s own public post (published on Medium), and written by Smith, he explains that when Yuppiechef was founded, no other company in SA was using the term “Yuppie” in its company name.
We launched Yuppiechef to join in this revolution, and to make available the products and brands that people were seeing on TV but couldn’t always get in a retail store. We knew that our primary market was not real chefs, and so we bravely added the tongue-in-cheek “yuppie” to our name as a throwback to the 80’s era.
It goes on to say that after their launch, other companies using the term started to appear.
Whether or not this was because we had started a national yuppie-naming trend, we were definitely the first and most well known, and this put us in a tricky position. We had often been colloquially referred to as “the yuppies” (which always makes me cringe), and now customers assumed that these other companies were related to us or part of our bigger group.
After Urban Gadgets had renamed itself to Yuppie Gadgets in 2011 (Chantal Kisten, co-founder and co-director of Yuppie Gadgets, told Memeburn this happened in 2010) it apparently started selling and advertising related products.
Very similar products from our two companies were appearing next to each other in magazine editorials. The two websites were selling identical products from the same brands. Our customer service team was fielding phone calls and emails from confused shoppers thinking that we could help with their Yuppie Gadgets order. We even received an invoice from one of Yuppie Gadgets’ suppliers, who sent it to us thinking that we were the same company.
The issue was then taken to the Western Cape High Court, and when that case was ruled in Yuppie Gadgets’ favour, Yuppiechef took it to the Supreme High Court in Bloemfontein. When asked about this move, Smith said: “It went to the appeals court because our lawyers felt that the the initial judgement in the lower courts was not correct.”
Yuppiechef: customers assumed that these other companies were related to us or part of our bigger group
“We do not feel that asking the courts to decide on trademark infringement constitutes bullying. The law and the courts exist to protect everyone, regardless of the size of the company,” Smith responded in question to Yuppie Gadgets’ accusation of bullying tactics.
Memeburn asked Smith about further legal action against Yuppie Gadgets as well as other stores using the term “Yuppie” in SA. He said there are currently no plans. “We don’t have any plans for legal action against anyone, but like all companies, if our trademarks or copyright are infringed in the future we will have to look at how to resolve the issues in the best possible way.”
When asked what the company will be doing to ‘bounce back’ from the case and public statements, Smith responded with: “It appears that this story is getting some attention on social media and news sites, but we don’t see it as a major blow to Yuppiechef. Names are important, but there are other things that we are giving far more focus to!”