Metro Atlanta mom's small business fights trademark battle with Target

FILE PHOTO: A computer glitch prompted long lines nationwide for Target customers Saturday afternoon. (Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Target's multibillion-dollar hopes for a new food brand have run into a metro Atlanta mom of twin toddlers and her own somewhat similarly named grocery and meals business. The mom is suing.

Six years ago, Emily Golub launched her entrepreneurial dream: Garnish & Gather, to deliver meal kits and organic groceries mostly sourced from Georgia farmers and growers. It was among the first meal kit companies serving the metro Atlanta area, she said.

She trademarked the name Garnish and Gather. She used a circular logo with the business name wrapped around a "G&G." Leaves are part of the motif and attached to the upper-case Gs.

In September, Target launched Good & Gather. According to Golub, the newcomer used a circular logo with the business name wrapped around a "g." Leaves were part of the motif and attached to the lower-case g.

Negotiations ensued between the big and little companies. The talks didn't go very well from Golub's point of view. Earlier this month she filed suit in federal court in New York against Target, claiming trademark infringement and a range of related alleged wrongs.

Golub said her 12-employee DeKalb County business has over 800 weekly meal kit subscribers and additional customers who buy organic groceries and third-party prepared meals. Minneapolis-based Target has more than 1,800 stores and generated $75 billion in sales last year.

"Basically they are going to take over the brand that I (worked) so hard to build. It is really sad and upsetting," Golub said.

Target didn't initially comment for this story. But spokesperson Danielle Schumann later wrote in an email to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that, "At Target, we have a deep appreciation and respect for trademarks. We're aware of this lawsuit and are confident that Target's brands, including Good & Gather, are distinctive in the marketplace. We've shared that feedback with Garnish & Gather and will continue to address these claims through the legal process."

In August, Target announced that Good & Gather would launch the following month as its largest owned brand, with about 650 products. The retailer said it expected to grow the line to more than 2,000 products by the end of 2020.

Some media outlets reported that Target predicted Good & Gather will be a multibillion-dollar business by the end of next year.

Golub, who in addition to running a business is raising twin four-year-old boys with her husband, said customers and vendors called her after noting the similarity in business names.

"It is a lot of similarities, and it is too many in my opinion to be a coincidence."

The trademark for her company's name was filed in 2013 and registered in 2014, according to the online listings with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Listings show Target filed for trademarks on the Good & Gather name a year later.

Golub said Target's representatives argued that if she had an issue with the name she should have attempted to flag Target when it initially sought the trademark.

As a young business, she said, she didn't have the resources to keep a company on retainer to look for potential future infringements.

During negotiations, Target could have bought her business, which she valued at millions of dollars, Golub said. Instead she said the retailer offered her tens of thousands of dollars to help customers find her company using online searches.

"There is just no way that we are going to come out ahead when we are such a small business," she said.