This past year, The Queens’ Tea has seen an amazing series of growth opportunities, not the least of which is our partnership with the television network A&E and the Project Start-up initiative that is set to air in early 2015.
Unfortunately, it hasn’t all been roses, though.
The Queen Mary Tea Room and Restaurant located in Seattle, Washington, has filed a federal lawsuit against The Queens’ Tea, claiming that they own national rights to the words “Queen” and “Tea” in product branding and marketing. For over a full year, our company has been subjected to repeated legal accusations and threatened by The Queen Mary Tea Room and Restaurant with demands from them of $15,000 from us for damages our company allegedly caused them.
We unequivocally find their accusations to be grossly unfounded and predatory in nature.
In a fair and open market system, where entrepreneurship is a virtue, we find it regrettable for businesses to resort to tactics such as these. The reality of the matter for us is that we have indeed suffered as a new and growing business, since our assets that would be invested into developing our company and serving our customers have been drawn into attorney fees to defend ourselves against the Queen Mary Tea Room and Restaurant.
As much as we hate to do this, The Queens’ Tea, out of necessity, will be discontinuing the online vendor service that we have been able to use for sharing our wonderful tea treasures with customers around the country. Effective February 1, 2015, our online store will no longer be in service, and we will no longer be filling customer orders by mail. We lament this set back. We will continue to be a presence at local markets in Salt Lake City, and our accounts for retail placement and ready-to-drink tea in Utah are as of yet unaffected.
We currently await a ruling from the federal judge assigned to our case. At this point, we don’t know the outcome of the litigation against us. We hope the judge in the case will agree with us that the Queen Mary Tea Room and Restaurant in Seattle has overreached in their claims to exclusive use of the words “Queen” and “Tea” under trademark law.
If there is one thing we can say for ourselves as Queens (a slang term for a fabulous gay man), it is that we are fighters for justice. We do not back down to bullies nor do we believe in letting ourselves be taken advantage of by aggressors who violate codes of civil decency. We knew going into this that—frankly—it may cost us our business. Having both grown up in situations where we were repeatedly bullied for being true to ourselves as queer individuals, our principles compel us to stand up against unfair aggravated attacks.
We expect a ruling in this case to be delivered by early spring, at which point we will assess our company status, and create a forward-looking plan accordingly.
Regardless, our passion and enthusiasm for exquisite teas will remain unchanged. In whatever form it may be, we will continue bringing this love to the broader community.
Thank you for the personal and business support so many of you have generously given to us. And thank you again for indulging your inner royalty with us. As we’ve said before, there’s a Queen in everyone.
Long live the Queens!
The Salt Lake Tribune covered this story and can be read here .
- Tiffany Shapiro
- Tea Hugger
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