ZUMBROTA, Minn. — When a small local businesses goes up against a large national corporation, the odds aren’t generally in the little guy’s favor.
Unfortunately, that’s how a recent trademark/name tussle played out for a Zumbrota couple and their growing microgreens business.
Entrepreneurs Dean and Jayne Bredlau own the young My Sweet Greens MN operation, which sells sweet peas, arugula, radish and other greens in the region as well as some vegetables and rhubarb.
This year was looking to be a big one for the small business. Then they were blindsided with a cease and desist letter over a trademark claimagainst their business name.
The letter came from a multi-million dollar, Los Angeles-based restaurant chain called Sweetgreen.
"Sweetgreen is concerned consumers will erroneously conclude that your business and its offerings are associated with, or sponsored or endorsed by, Sweetgreen," wrote Sweetgreen attorney Colette Ghazarian.
Legal negotiations between the couple and the restaurant chain recently wrapped up. The Bredlaus have 18 months or until November 2020 to stop using the My Sweet Greens MN name. That means the end of the brand they had worked to build since 2016.
They don’t know what new name they will take yet. All they know for certain is that their My Sweet Greens MN name will die an "untimely" death.
"Not an ideal outcome," said Jayne Bredlau last week.
Despite the name conflict, the Bredlaus microgreens business is flourishing. They recently grew to producing 150 pounds of greens a month versus the 100 they produced at the start of 2019.
Their fresh crops are available at the Rochester Farmers Market and the Riverwalk Market Fair in Northfield, Minn. They can also be found most Tuesday evenings at the Zumbrota Farmers Market as well at some area Hy-Vee grocery stores.
My Sweet Greens are also used in area restaurants, such as the Blue Heron in Winona, Bleu Dog Cafe in Welch and Lord Essex Steakhouse in Rochester.
Whatever their small business is eventually called, they are determined to keep their dream alive, green and growing.