Sun Pacific has the exclusive sales rights for the Cuties brand this season and next, following an arbitration proceeding involving Paramount Citrus. For the time being, Sun Pacific Cos. has the exclusive sales rights for the Cuties brand, leaving Paramount Citrus little to do but pack clementines and murcotts for Sun Pacific, its somewhat estranged trademark partner.
A trademark ownership dispute between Sun Pacific owner Berne Evans and Paramount owner Stewart Resnick landed the two California citrus companies in federal court and then in an arbitration proceeding earlier this year.
Barney Evans, vice president of sales of Pasadena-based Sun Pacific, said Nov. 20 that the arbitration panel ruled in favor of his father’s company, giving Sun Pacific the exclusive sales rights to the Cuties brand for this season and next season.
The Sun Pacific vice president said Los Angeles-based Paramount is packing some Cuties for Sun Pacific this season. He also said the companies continue to share ownership of the Cuties trademark, with each company owning 50% of the popular brand.
He confirmed that Berne Evans sent a letter to Sun Pacific’s Cuties customers before the 2012-13 harvest began to alert them of the situation.
“The arbitration panel ruled in favor of Sun Pacific on the crucial issue of who has the exclusive right to sell Cuties, and the panel ruled in Sun Pacific’s favor on most of the other issues,” according to the Sept. 10 letter. “The panel ordered that ‘Paramount shall forthwith cease all sales-related activities …’ ”
“To avoid any confusion in the marketplace, please contact us if you are approached about the sale of Cuties by a Paramount and/or Roll representative or marketer,” according to the Sun Pacific letter.
Rob Six, senior vice president of corporate communications for Paramount parent company Roll Global, said the company was limiting comments because the case is ongoing.
“Paramount continues to be the largest grower of Cuties and a co-owner of the trademarks and will pack under the Cuties label in its new facility this year,” Six said in an e-mail. “Nothing has changed in this regard due to the arbitration.”
Paramount opened a new packinghouse in Delano, Calif., on Nov. 16 that has the capacity to pack 800,000 3-pound bags of Cuties daily. Barney Evans said the plant will pack some of the Cuties that Sun Pacific is selling this season.
The two companies have been growing, packing and shipping Cuties brand mandarins, clementines and murcotts since signing an agreement that began in October 2008 and runs through September 2014. The two companies have jointly owned the Cuties trademark since 2001, according to court documents.