Here’s the story of how peace and love turned into a lawsuit about popcorn.
In May 2008, Gary Paparella and his youngest daughter, Meagan, were at a Pittsburgh restaurant doodling logos and names on napkins for a gourmet popcorn and candy store. The family was moving to Frisco, Texas, for Paparella’s job at Dr Pepper Snapple Group and had decided to leave the corporate world behind to open a family business.
That’s when 19-year-old Meagan wrote the words “love peace popcorn,” doodling a heart, a peace sign and a piece of popcorn. Today, the brick and mortar store sells “peace love popcorn” T-shirts, fudge and, of course, popcorn in more than 60 flavors — even dill pickle-flavored. They’re on Twitter, Facebook and online with three registered domain names. They even trademarked the name and logo.
Wednesday, The Popcorn Factory LLC in Lake Forest, a 1-800-FLOWERS.COM company, hit Paparella’s mom-and-pop store got hit with a federal lawsuit for trademark infringement and cybersquatting. In the suit, The Popcorn Factory, which claims to sell more than 1 million pounds of popcorn every year, says that when it comes to peace, love and popcorn, they were there first.
In Spring 2008, the company claims, they began marketing Popcorn Factory products under the slogan “Peace Love Popcorn,” also combined with (you guessed it) a doodle of a peace sign, a heart and a piece of (smiling) popcorn. Their catalogs and online store are filled with the doodle.
“We knew nothing of their business,” Paparella said, answering the phone at his shop in Texas. “We came up with this name and registered it as a trademark. We went through the proper channels and paid the fees.”
The Popcorn Factory is asking for $100,000 in damages per domain name of which there are three (lovepeacepopcorn.com, peacelovepopcorn.com and peavelovepopcorn.net) and that Paparella destroy all advertising, promotional materials and anything else that resembles peace, love or popcorn. According to the suit, Paparella planned to develop additional retail popcorn stores based on the original store.
Attorneys for both popcorn companies did not return calls for comment Thursday. A spokeswoman for The Popcorn Factory did not return a call.