To be honest, it was kind of hard for me to understand what the tradmark conflict was. When I think "Tony Chachere" I think creole seasoning that comes in a green, round cardboard container with a cartoon of Tony Chachere. Big Easy seems to be selling prepackaged food.
What I didn't know is that Tony Chachere has a whole line of prepackaged foods, which, Big Easy apparently used to make under license for Tony Chachere. After Tony Chachere terminated the contract with Big Easy, Big Easy kept on making the products with different labeling.
Apparently not different enough:
After some research I found images of both Tony Chachere's and Big Easy's Tur-Duc-Hen packaging. (If you can come up with better images, please send them along...) The main complaint seems to be in the use of the ribbon but, overall, that Big Easy just lifted the main elements and then changed the background color.
Add the fact that Big Easy actually made the product for Tony Chachere, and you can guess that the products are pretty darn similar inside the box. Like, I'm assuming, exactly the same.
This isn't a Coke vs. Pepsi kind of thing where two products evolved in the same market until you can't really tell the difference. This is a vendor who decided to keep on going with a product after they were told to stop.
Allegedly. I gotta remember to say "allegedly." Because if there's one thing I've learned in the world of lawsuits, it's rarely that cut and dried once it ends up on pleading paper.
And if you like court filings, here's a copy of the lawsuit... Complaint Tony Chachere's v. Big-Easy-Foods also found by the @PackagingDiva.
Update September 27, 2011: Got a note from Big Easy today asking for a quick clarification, which I'm more than happy to do as any information I got for this posting was pretty much from the Tony Chachere lawsuit and press release.
According to Big Easy's news section on their website (http://www.bigeasyfoods.com/news), there are two big points that Big Easy disagrees with
Big Easy made the product first
Apparently Big Easy "paid Tony Chachere’s millions of dollars in licensing fees" in order to use the Tony Chachere name on existing Big Easy products. So, if there's still a Tony Chachere Tur-duc-hen out there, it's likely to be a copy of Big Easy, not the other way around.
Big Easy Terminated the agreement
Again, according to Big Easy, it was Big Easy that chose not to renew the license agreement, not the other way around. They then used their existing branding to market a product that was theirs to begin with.
As I said, lawsuits are always ugly and what you hear is always like the kind of exaggeration on a resume. I hope the companies work it out. Personally, I'm not confused by the brands, but I am starting to get a hankering for some turkey, duck and chicken all rolled up together and I don't want to have to pick sides before dinner.
Update September 28, 2011: Okay, one more update and then I think I'll get back to Chinese knockoffs... Tony Chachere's primary contact for the lawsuit sent me some pictures of other products named in the suit.
Black and white... yeah, that's pretty much the same package. In color? Still pretty similar.
As for the rest of who stole what from whom -- I'm going to step out of it now and let due process run its due course and, again, hope that the two companies can figure it out on their own without it becoming an ugly war.