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Apple Hill growers fight over the area's famous name

Apple Hill is a lovely place to grow fresh veggies. The soil is fertile, the apples are juicy, the pumpkins are extra-orange and the Christmas trees are rich evergreen. However, a trademark dispute has erupted in this beautiful Northern California town. The disagreement relates to how the name "Apple Hill" can be used by those who want to sell their farm produce grown in the area.

The dispute started with Apple Hill Growers Association, which has been using the moniker "Apple Hill" on its goods since 1964. The Apple Hill Growers Association says that the owners of Boa Vista Orchards may not use the descriptor "Apple Hill," when they sell their fruit and veggies.

According to court records, the Visman family, which owns Boa Vista Orchards, decided to withdrawal from the Apple Hill Growers Association approximately five years ago, and this began the dispute. The Growers Association went to the Boa Vista Orchards to take back their Apple Hill Grower" logos. However, Boa Vista started advertising itself as the "Official Site of Apple Hill," and they also created an "Apple Hill Visitor Center" at its farm address. Boa Vista also created a website with the name Apple Hill in the address.

The last straw for the Growers Association happened when Boa Vista created a large billboard that said "Apple Hill Open," which caused people to be turned away from the Apple Hill Growers Association location, which is only open during growing season. Boa Vista, on the other hand, is open year-round. The growers filed suit to try to reclaim their name from the rival grower.

When a logo or trademark gets "hijacked" by another brand, it may be possible to file a trademark lawsuit to force the other brand to stop using the name. Monetary compensation can also be pursued if the trademark infringement resulted in damages.

Source: The Sacramento Bee, "All is not bucolic at Apple Hill, where a legal fight is now brewing," Sam Stanton, Dec. 10, 2017

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