In the latest David against Goliath trademark story, The National Grange has apparently defeated Tyson Foods from adopting and federally registering the term grange as part of the phrase Grange and Grassland for a line of chicken,pork and beef products. Or at least that's how the website slants its story.

Tyson Foods (Goliath) is the largest meat processor in the world. And they are no stranger to trademark litigation. But this makes some of the statements in the story seem ill conceived at best. Mr. Ed Luttrell,(David) claimed that if Tyson Foods had been able to adopt and use the phrase grange and grassland they would have hijacked the goodwill that the Grange has built up in the term. And further, left unchecked. Mr. Luttrell was convinced that Tyson would have forced every local Grange to stop using terms like Grange barbecue.

I don't think so. Firstly, there is an accepted dictionary definition for the term grange other than the association of farmers. The word has an older meaning that refers to a farm or a farmhouse with other buildings. Indeed it was very likely this understanding of the word that influenced the founders of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry,the National Grange. I suspect that it was this more general use of the term grange that Tyson sought to play on when it adopted the term grange. Especially since the National Grange is rapidly losing membership- and a retail consumer would probably never have heard of the farmers association.

Of perhaps more importance to Tyson Foods, they had used the federal trademark application for GRANGE AND GRASSLAND as collateral by assigning it to a bank. To abandon their application would mean offering new collateral to the bank.

Be that as it may, Tyson did abandon their federal trademark application. And they left themselves vulnerable to a poorly told David and Goliath story.


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