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Canada’s Pirate Joe’s Shuts Down After Legal Battle With Trader Joe’s

The small business closed its doors after pushback from the US grocery store

In 2013, Trader Joe’s began cracking down on Pirate Joe’s in Vancouver — a grocery store owned by Michael Hallatt, who resells the grocery store’s products — citing trademark infringement and false endorsement, among other charges. After a longstanding battle with Trader Joe’s, Hallatt announced that his grocery store would officially close its doors.

In a final attempt to keep the business running, the grocery store launched a crowdfunding campaign on CrowdJustice and wrote a post on Facebook requesting last-minute donations.

“If you just so happen to be a millionaire and have $50,000 available to donate to us to stand up to Trader Joe's in federal court, please call,” Pirate Joe’s wrote in the post. “Otherwise, please head in today to grab your TJ's loot, because we will likely be closing for good at the end of the day today.”

The company thanked those who supported the business, but as the case moved forward, the legal costs started piling up.

“You get in a lot of trouble for selling groceries,” Hallatt told Global News. “I had an epic legal battle to fight and it was just beyond me and the capacity of one guy.”

Pirate Joe’s isn’t the first small business to be targeted by a larger company — New Jersey’s Weedbukx and London’s Star Box have each received a legal push from coffee giant Starbucks in efforts to “protect brand identity.”

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