“Pirate Joe’s” Wins Case in US Federal Court

By: Elliott Smith
Pirate Joe’s, a popular Kitsilano reseller of Trader Joe’s products has won a major victory in US Federal court. The store on Vancouver’s West 4th Ave owned by BC Entrepreneur Michael Hallatt was sued by California-based Trader Joe’s for reselling its products north of the border. A US Federal District Court in Seattle ruled that Pirate Joe’s Pirate Joe'swas not acting improperly or causing harm to the grocery chain by exporting large quantities of goods purchased at its stateside retail outlets and reselling them to Vancouver consumers.
Hallatt’s business began by frequenting the Bellingham store, where he was often seen purchasing cartfuls of non-perishable goods for export and resale in British Columbia. According to NBC News, staff at the Bellingham store welcomed Hallatt at first: “They saw Hallatt’s Vancouver outlet as a way to reduce the long lines in their own store.” But he quickly became persona non grata at Trader Joe’s, as the company grew to dislike his unauthorized reselling of their products in Canada.
The Bellingham Trader Joe’s store is notorious among WhatcomCounty and Lower Mainland shoppers for its tiny parking lot. As one commenter on Reddit pointed out, Hallatt might seem to be doing the Bellingham store and its patrons a favor by reducing traffic into the facility. But alas, Trader Joe’s did not see it that way. The chain sued Hallatt in US Federal court for, according to NBC News, “alleged federal trademark infringement, deceptive business practices,” and a host of other claims that he was causing harm to the Trader Joe’s brand and business.
Judge Marsha J. Pechman disagreed, dismissing the lawsuit from US Federal District Court and ruling in Hallatt’s favor. NBC News notes that Trader Joes was given a short window in which it may pursue a new lawsuit against Pirate Joe’s in state courts. As of this publication, there is no indication that such a lawsuit has been filed. Trade Tips Blog will monitor the situation, and post updates as they occur.
For more details on Pirate Joe’s legal victory, read this article by Elizabeth Chuck of NBC News.
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