Controversy Brewing at Cat & Cloud Coffee

Photos: Cat & Cloud

Santa Cruz-based coffee shop Cat & Cloud recently revealed it’s in a legal battle with Caterpillar Inc., the world’s largest construction equipment manufacturer.

Caterpillar, a $54 billion company that has trademarked “CAT,” first sent a cease and desist to Cat & Cloud in August 2018. The coffee shop has a Class 25 trademark on its name, which extends to clothing, footwear, and headgear—merchandise that Caterpillar sells to customers all over the globe.

“Caterpillar serves customers around the world, many of whom earn their livelihood with one or two machines and often a good pair of work boots,” the corporation says in a statement. “We value all of them and strive to provide exceptional products and services. This means we have a responsibility to protect and maintain the brand they love and rely on every day—including our existing trademarks.”

Chris Baca (left) and Jared Truby.

Cat & Cloud, according to co-owner Jared Truby, responded to the initial letter by hiring a lawyer and requesting Caterpillar drop its suit, as they are in separate industries. However, after much back and forth, and thousands of dollars in legal fees, Truby and co-owner Chris Baca say they are not backing down.

Meanwhile, in its statement, Caterpillar adds, “We are not suing Cat & Cloud, not targeting a small business and not focused on Cat & Cloud’s primary interest: coffee. We’ve simply asked the U.S. Trademark Office to remove Cat & Cloud’s trademark registration on footwear and apparel only, products for which Caterpillar has longstanding trademarks and a considerable business. We hope to resolve this issue quickly.”

A Change.org petition to “Tell Caterpillar Inc. to Stop Bullying Cat & Cloud and Other Small Businesses” has been created. After reaching its initial goal of 10,000 signatures on Tuesday, the petition is now seeking 15,000.