Hall and Oates are an American musical duo who achieved success in the 1970s and early 80s on the relative strength of pop-rock singles like “Out of Touch”, “Private Eyes”, and “Rich Girl.” The duo’s smooth, soft-rock-inflected take on Philadelphia soul netted them, in all, 34 singles on the Billboard Hot 100, election to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and the ironical re-appreciation of hipsters some three decades after their heyday.
Haulin’ Oats, meanwhile, is a small-batch granola made by Early Bird Foods & Co., an artisanal granola manufacturer based in Red Hook. Early Bird offers several types of granolas; the Haulin’ Oats line consists of rolled oats and maple, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil for a sweet and salty flavor combo. It’s purportedly delicious in a parfait. A three-pack retails for $27.
Hall and Oates aren’t happy about Haulin’ Oats—so unhappy, in fact, that they’ve filed suit against Early Bird for trademark infringement.
“The name and mark Haulin’ Oats is an obvious play upon Plaintiff’s well-known Hall & Oates mark, and was selected by defendant in an effort to trade off of the fame and notoriety associated with the artist’s and plaintiff’s well-known marks,” the group claimed in a lawsuit filed in Brooklyn federal court. Hall and Oates are demanding Early Bird stop using the name, and they’re also seeking damages.
A spokesperson for the plaintiffs told Rolling Stone that Hall & Oates’ company, which is called Whole Oats Enterprises, actually owns a Federal Trademark Registration for the term “Haulin Oats.” That term covers
…breakfast foods that is used in connection with the sale of ‘Haulin Oats’ branded oatmeal by Whole Oats Enterprises’ licensee. Early Bird Foods’ use of the mark on their own products is likely to confuse consumers and lead them to believe that such products are affiliated with or approved by Hall & Oates, which is not the case.”
Haulin’ Oats is sold in 38 states and across Europe and Japan, making it arguably more popular, globally, than Hall and Oates. It is perhaps for this reason that owner Nekisia Davis has a sense of humor about the lawsuit: she responded to Rolling Stone‘s request for comment with, simply, “Say it isn’t so,” which (har-har) is also the name of a Hall and Oates song.
More on this story as it develops.
Follow Phillip Pantuso on Twitter @phillippantuso.