Mother’s Milk vs Mothers Milk in trademark battle

Co-op began a Change.org petition

Side by side views of Mother's Milk Tea and the Mothers Milk Cooperative that are involved in a trademark dispute, June 19, 2015 (KOIN)
Side by side views of Mother's Milk Tea and the Mothers Milk Cooperative that are involved in a trademark dispute, June 19, 2015 (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A trademark battle between a tea company and a Lake Oswego breast milk co-op has prompted the co-op to suspend operations for the time being.

At issue is a product called “Mother’s Milk” tea made by a California company called Traditional Medicinals. They have used that name for one of their products since 1980.

Mothers Milk Cooperative of Lake Oswego was founded on Mother’s Day 2013 by Adrianne Weir.  The tea company filed a trademark infringement claim saying Mothers Milk Cooperative can not have a consumer product for sale with the same name.

The filing states the co-op’s use will likely “cause confusion as to the source of the goods.”

Weir told KOIN 6 News there is no way consumers would confuse the co-op’s breast milk with the tea company’s product.

Adrianne Weir, the CEO of Mothers Milk Cooperative in Lake Oswego, via Skype, June 19, 2015 (KOIN)
Adrianne Weir, the CEO of Mothers Milk Cooperative in Lake Oswego, via Skype, June 19, 2015 (KOIN)

“We just don’t want to stand for it,” Weir said. “We think it’s ridiculous for our milk bank to be challenged in this way and for such a small organization for what we view as preyed upon by a very large company.”

She said they decided to stop accepting milk donations because the trademark battle has been a distraction of time and resources. Weir said they “hit the pause button” until this gets resolved.

In a statement to KOIN 6 News, Traditional Medicinals CEO Blair Kellison said, “Traditional Medicinals is not suing the Mother’s Milk Cooperative, and there is no lawsuit. We are not asking Mother’s Milk Cooperative to change their business name. The Cooperative attempted to trademark “Mother’s Milk Cooperative” for use on a consumer product. We’ve legally held the “Mother’s Milk” trademark for 35 years, so we filed a trademark cancellation proceeding, meaning we asked that “Mother’s Milk Cooperative” not be used on any future consumer facing products. We’re aligned with the Cooperative’s mission to support nursing mothers and babies, and we truly hope we can resolve this.”

A donor mom’s point of view

Laura Moore of St. Helens is a mom who donates her breast milk through Mothers Milk Cooperative of Lake Oswego, June 19, 2015 (KOIN)
Laura Moore of St. Helens is a mom who donates her breast milk through Mothers Milk Cooperative of Lake Oswego, June 19, 2015 (KOIN)

Laura Moore of St. Helens is one of the 3000 women nationwide who provide their breast milk to Mothers Milk Cooperative.

“This milk goes to premature babies like mine,” she told KOIN 6 News. “I’m a mother of 4 and I’ve had 2 premature babies. When the milk isn’t getting to the hospital for these babies, the likelihood of their survival goes down.”

But right now she said her breast milk is just sitting in her freezer.

“It’s probably enough to feed 300 to 400 babies,” she said. “It’s waiting to be shipped until this lawsuit is done.”

Moore, 31, said, “Moms like me produce more milk,” and said she’s used Mother’s Milk Tea to help boost her supply of milk.

“We’re getting heard and moms are talking about this,” Moore said. “They’re wanting to boycott until they stop this lawsuit.”

The co-op began a Change.org petition urging Traditional Medicinals to “stop your frivolous lawsuit against a company that helps babies in need.”

Laura Moore of St. Helens has a freezer full of breast milk waiting to be donated through Mothers Milk Cooperative of Lake Oswego, June 19, 2015 (KOIN)
Laura Moore of St. Helens has a freezer full of breast milk waiting to be donated through Mothers Milk Cooperative of Lake Oswego, June 19, 2015 (KOIN)

 

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