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Spice manufacturers settle ‘New Bae’ trademark lawsuit

New Bae seasoning. (Submitted photo by Primal Palate)

New Bae seasoning. (Submitted photo by Primal Palate)

McCormick & Co. settled its trademark infringement lawsuit Tuesday with an organic spice maker that sells a seasoning mix called “New Bae.”

The Baltimore spice company filed a federal lawsuit against Pittsburgh-based Primal Palate in 2018, claiming New Bae infringes on McCormick’s Old Bay trademark.

U.S. District Judge Stephanie A. Gallagher issued an order Tuesday dismissing the lawsuit because she had been advised by the parties that the matter was settled. A settlement conference was held before a federal magistrate judge on Tuesday.

Attorneys for the parties did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday. A spokeswoman for McCormick declined to comment or provide details about the settlement. Primal Palate did not respond to an email seeking comment.

The Primal Palate website still advertised New Bae as of Tuesday afternoon.

Primal Palate launched New Bae in October 2017 and touted on its website how well the spice goes with crab legs, fries and Bloody Marys. The company also alludes to the pun in the name; BAE stands for “before anyone else” and is used to refer to a significant other.

McCormick alleged that the use of New Bae in that context is designed to “diminish the reputation” of Old Bay and to “create a wrongful association” with the famous Maryland seasoning blend.

Primal Palate has defended New Bae by arguing that there is no likelihood of confusion for customers and that the name actually differentiates it from McCormick’s Old Bay. Primal Palate co-founder Bill Staley said in December 2018 that the name gave a “nod” to Old Bay.

“We do not see legal merit to the claims that McCormick has made. Primal Palate understands and respects McCormick’s desire to police its trademarks. However, in this instance, there is nothing actionable to police,” Staley said in a statement.

The case is McCormick & Company Inc. v. Primal Palate LLC, 1:18-cv-03799.

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