HEB, Trader Joe’s Wrangle Over Use of Name: Report

What’s in a name? Plenty, it turns out, for a certain grocery operator. After two years of planning, H.E. Butt Grocery Co. has this past week rolled out a new discount chain called Joe V’s Smart Shop, but if Trader Joe’s, Inc. has anything to say about it, the stores would drop their first name, according to a published report

Shortly before the pilot store opened in Houston on May 5, Monrovia, Calif.-based Trader Joe’s sent HEB a letter demanding that it discontinue use of the name “Joe” and threatening to “pursue any and all available legal remedies” if this were not done, the Austin, Texas, Business Journal reported, citing Western District federal court records.

Trader Joe’s insists that the chain’s name will confuse the public, but San Antonio-based HEB is asking a federal judge to allow it to continue to use the banner name. At the present time, Trader Joe’s has no stores in Texas, and company spokeswoman Alison Mochizuki told the Dallas Morning News in March that there were no current plans to open any, although she cryptically noted to the Business Journal in an e-mail this month that “[t]hings can change,” declining to elaborate on her meaning.

Instead of the 37,000 SKUs sold at a typical HEB store, Joe V’s Smart Shop offers a limited assortment of 9,000 items, among them grocery, meat, produce and bakery, in addition to personal care and pet supplies. Depending on consumer reaction, the look, size and details of the 50,000-square-foot pilot store could change.
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