The Holy Donut in Portland Just Proved There Are No Holes in its Strength
Let it be known that now and forever: The reigning, defending, undisputed, heavyweight champion of making sure there are no other donut places with holy or holey in the name is none other than The Holy Donut!
But seriously, I can't put into words how amazing this is (maybe because our guys won and we weren't directly involved in the drama) and what a SMACKDOWN The Holy Donut just put down. Put it this way, though -- The Holy Donut's muscles are so big that they just caused an Oregon cafe to change its name.
According to the Portland Press Herald, back in December of 2019, the Newton family in Klamath Falls, Oregon, decided to open up their own shop after years of saving up money. Their theme was donuts (and then eventually trying to put holes in everything) -- and because of that, they decided on what they thought was a clever name that was also the name of an old diner they enjoyed -- The Holey Donut.
One problem. OUR Holy Donut copyrighted their name back in 2012, once they started the epically delicious move of stuffing their donuts with mashed potatoes. Now, sure, it's spelled differently, but it's also pronounced the same way and is relatively the same name.
Now, in that PPH article, CEO of The Holy Donut, Jeff Buckwalter, mentioned that he gave the Newton family the option to sign a coexisting agreement, which would allow both businesses to keep doing their thing as long as The Holey Donut had no plans to expand. Apparently, they refused, and instead added a "cafe" at the end of their name, thinking that the change to "The Holey Donut Cafe" would be good enough for Jeff. But it wasn't and was still too similar, so he took the ole legal route after multiple calls and letters were sent to the Newtons but not answered.
What's interesting to me is in the article that ran in Oregon, the owners make it seem like Jeff was bullying them over the name. And while there's generally three sides to every story (your side, their side, and actual truth), you can't fault Jeff for trying to protect his brand, which again, was copyrighted almost a decade ago.
And again, there was the offer of the coexisting agreement that Jeff gave to the Newtons which they didn't sign -- which, in their defense, I can understand, too. Because like Jeff mentioned he wants to continue growing The Holy Donut to more than just the 3 locations they have now (Portland, Scarborough, and Augusta, along with the 4th location they just announced in the Old Port, replacing Bill's Pizza), perhaps the Newtons have dreams of expanding their business, too.
The Holy/Holey Donut battle is all said and done, though, with The Holy Donut reigning supreme. After fearing that fighting the lawsuit would bankrupt them, even if they won, the Newtons decided to change the name to, according to the Oregon article that ran, Holey Moley Cafe and Sandwiches (which makes total sense, since the Newtons said they're more than just donuts, anyway.)