business Duke’s Mayonnaise sues SC’s Duke Sandwich for copying label colors

Duke’s Mayonnaise sues SC’s Duke Sandwich for copying label colors


Where would you go to visit a mayonnaise cafe? Japan.
Wochit, Louisville Courier Journal

For nearly a century, the two sides of Eugenia Duke’s original business coexisted. Then the spreads came. 

Duke’s Mayonnaise sued in North Carolina federal court three upstate companies – Duke Sandwich Productions, DFP Sandwich Shops and Duke Brands – for alleged trademark infringement, unfair competition, false designation of origin and trademark dilution.   

“As the steward of this iconic and beloved brand, it is our responsibility to ensure that loyal Duke’s customers receive the unmatched quality and flavor they have come to expect in the 90 years,” David Coburn, a spokesman for Duke’s Mayonnaise, said in a statement. 

The companies share a common founder, Eugenia Duke, who invented a mayonnaise recipe and in 1917 began selling sandwiches for soldiers fighting in World War I. She sold the sandwich business in 1923 to focus on her mayonnaise product. Later, she sold the mayonnaise recipe and the Duke brand to C.F. Sauer Co. in 1929.

While Duke’s Mayonnaise grew popular in grocery stores, Duke Sandwich expanded to three upstate restaurant locations. 

The defendants began marketing and selling Duke sandwich spreads in grocery stores, the lawsuit says. Late last year, the defendants created a Duke logo for the spreads that looked like Duke’s Mayonnaise black and yellow labeling, the lawsuit says. 

“Defendants are engaging in this conduct in order to confuse consumers into believing they are connected to the famous DUKE’S brand, therefore allowing Defendants’ new packaged spreads and foods business to freeride off of the established and still rapidly growing national reputation of the DUKE’S brand,” the lawsuit says. 

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John Boyanoski, a spokesman for Duke Foods, said Duke’s Mayonnaise had not expressed concern about the defendants’ spreads until discussions began to sell the mayonnaise company to a private equity firm

“We continue to ask the question of why now,” Boyanoski said in a statement. “Sauer did not object when Duke Foods expanded into retail grocery more than a decade ago and Sauer then partnered with us on the 2017 celebration of the 100th anniversary of Eugenia Duke founding her company.”

Sauer Brands, which was acquired by a Charlotte-based equity firm this summer, filed the suit in federal court late last week. 

The defendants have until late November to file a response to the lawsuit. 

Duke’s Mayonnaise asks in the suit for the defendants to change their name and branding so they less resemble each other. 

“We plan to fight to keep our name and our brand,” Boyanoski said. 

Duke Foods employs more than 300 people in Greenville, North Carolina, and the Caribbean. Duke’s Mayonnaise is manufactured in Mauldin, South Carolina, and Kansas. The Mauldin factory employs 380 people. 

Haley Walters covers public safety, crime and breaking news. Email her at and follow her on Twitter @_haleywalters

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