Chobani Gets Sued in a Case That Hinges on a Tweet

Author cites Twitter message in trademark infringement claim

Chobani and its agency Droga5 are being sued by inspirational author Dov Seidman, who is claiming the yogurt infringed on his trademark while lifting core concepts from his 2011 book, "How: Why How We Do Anything Means Everything."

Seidman, also the CEO of business consultancy LRN, alleges that the defendants illegally employed his trademark in its 2014 Super Bowl campaign, which utilized a "How Matters" tagline. The messaging in question also ran during the Winter Olympics and Academy Awards via TV and digital properties.

Maybe the most interesting part of the legal filing, though, involves Twitter. Chobani tweeted at Seidman on Jan. 29 the following: 

The lawsuit points to the tweet as key evidence, stating that it shows that Chobani and Droga5 knew trademark issues could arise because of the campaign.

The litigation documents also claim that Droga5 met in late 2013 to discuss Seidman's mark, but it doesn't reveal how his legal team knows about the agency powwow. The agency declined to comment on the suit.

Updated: Norwich, N.Y.-based Chobani disputed Siedman's allegations while releasing a statement on Wednesday evening. Here's an excerpt: "Chobani chose 'How Matters' as its platform because it represents what Chobani has always stood for, including its use of natural ingredients to make wholesome and nutritious food. Mr. Seidman does not own a trademark registration for 'How Matters' and has never used that phrase as a trademark. Numerous other companies use phrases including the word 'how' in connection with marketing language and corporate social responsibility phrasing, and Mr. Seidman himself argued to the trademark office that there is no likelihood of confusion in circumstances similar to these. We are confident that our use of 'How Matters' does not violate any legal rights of Mr. Seidman, and accurately portrays who we are and what we do."

Meanwhile, the lawsuit seeks damages, including the profits Chobani has earned since the launch of its campaign. You can click to enlarge the image below to read other statements by his legal team, which filed its case in United States District Court in New York.