Alleges Louisiana and Pit Boss Grill Maker Dansons Has Engaged in Deliberate Campaign to Copy Traeger Grill Design and Confuse Consumers Through Trademark Infringement and False Advertising.
Efforts Culminated in Hiring Joseph and Brian Traeger and Unlawfully Using Traeger Name and Likeness, Which Were Sold to Traeger Grills in 2006, to Promote Dansons Grills.
July 16, 2019
SALT LAKE CITY
Traeger Wood Fired Grills (“Traeger Grills” or “Plaintiff”) today announced that it has filed lawsuits against Dansons US, LLC (“Dansons”), the maker of Louisiana and Pit Boss grills, and Joseph Traeger and Brian Traeger (collectively, the “Defendants”), alleging pervasive intellectual property theft, including copying unique design elements of Traeger grills and misusing the Traeger brand and intellectual property. The suits allege that Dansons has been conducting a multi-year campaign to promote its grills as if they were Traegers, thereby confusing consumers and damaging Traeger Grills and its employees, culminating in its recent decision to use the Traeger name and likenesses unlawfully.
As detailed in the complaints, Joe Traeger is credited with inventing the wood pellet barbeque grill in his family’s barn in the 1980s. In 2006, his family sold the company they founded to a corporate predecessor to Traeger Grills. As part of the sale, Traeger Grills paid $9 million for the exclusive and perpetual right to use the Traeger name, likenesses and reputation in the wood pellet grill industry. Since that time, Traeger Grills has relied on that agreement, investing over a hundred million dollars building the Traeger brand, solidifying the Company’s position as an industry leader, and cultivating an enthusiastic and extremely loyal customer base.
The complaints detail how Dansons has embarked on a multi-year campaign to confuse consumers by copying significant aspects of Traeger’s marketing strategy, content and trade dress, as well as the look and feel of a Traeger Grill, including the copper painted lid, square pellet hopper, placement and look of the controls, the placement of the grease bucket, leg and wheel design, and smokestack placement. Dansons’ efforts continued in 2018, when it hired Joe and Brian Traeger “to elevate” its brand and product portfolio.
Traeger Grills put Dansons on notice of its unlawful conduct in an attempt to resolve this privately, but Dansons has continued to collude with Joe and Brian Traeger to misappropriate the Traeger name and imagery. Among other things, in 2019, Joe and Brian Traeger helped Dansons introduce a “FOUNDERS SERIES” of its Louisiana Grills, which they stated was “brought to you proudly by Joe Traeger, the founder of the original pellet grill….” In a clear violation of Plaintiff’s agreement with Joe and Brian, Dansons has continued to use the likenesses of Joe and Brian, and the famous Traeger barn, improperly on a near-daily basis to suggest falsely that lower-priced Dansons grills are affiliated with, or endorsed by, Traeger Grills.
“Traeger Nation is a unique community that has been cultivated through years of innovation and hard work,” said Jeremy Andrus, CEO of Traeger Grills. “While we welcome fair competition, Dansons’ multiyear effort to copy Traeger through the illegal use of names, likenesses and unique design elements is confusing to customers and damaging to our company. No other wood-pellet grill compares to a genuine Traeger, and we are committed to protecting the Traeger brand, our investment, and the trust and loyalty of our community, which we have worked so hard to earn.”
Andrus continued, “Joe and Brian Traeger are free to earn a living by working for Dansons or any other company so long as they abide by the terms of our agreement. However, they are currently doing exactly what they agreed not to do – and what they were paid millions not to do – which is to use their names, likeness and reputations to confuse consumers, undermine the Traeger Grills brand and harm our company. We can no longer stand by while Joe and Brian Traeger violate our agreements and promote Dansons’ grills as if they were genuine Traegers.”
The suit against Joseph and Brian Traeger was brought in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida Tampa Division and the suit against Dansons was brought in the United States District Court for the District of Arizona. The lawsuits seek to enjoin the Defendants from their continuing illegal conduct and to recover the resulting damages Traeger Grills has suffered as well as the attorney’s fees it has been forced to incur.
Traeger Grills, headquartered in Salt Lake City, has been revolutionizing BBQ grilling and outdoor cooking for over 30 years with one simple, all-encompassing cooking solution. Traeger pellet grills use 100% all-natural hardwood fuel to infuse food with flavorful smoke, making food taste delicious and most of all, memorable. As the inventor of the original and world's top selling wood-fired grill, Traeger utilizes wood-fired convection power to provide 6-in-1 versatility; grill, smoke, bake, roast, braise and BBQ meals to perfection every time.
Hugh Burns/Nicholas Leasure