Tall, condensed, shadowed font: check.
Sea green background and “Hand-Harvested Pure Sea Salt” tagline: check-check.
Clear jars, nifty, teeny slide tins, and distinctive logo ball caps (possibly intended for sweaty chef-heads): check, check, and, uh yep, CHECK.
The old adage "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery" gets trotted out a lot, but Jorge Salt & Co.'s “artisan sea salt” operation in Miami, Florida, may have taken that concept to a truly baffling degree. The company’s branding is nearly identical to that of Oregon’s Jacobsen Salt Co., right down to Jacobsen's double-ruled hairline logo border and atmospheric dog-and-salt bucket photos featured on Jorge's website.
Facebook lit up over the weekend as Jacobsen’s owner Ben Jacobsen posted about the doppelgänger on Facebook: “Pretty crazy. I talked to this guy on the phone and he just doesn’t care,” Jacobsen wrote March 31 on his personal FB page.
Jacobsen’s missive prompted double-handfuls of salty Oregonians to post angry messages on Facebook comparing the two companies branding. Some commenters posted directly on Jorge Salt & Co.’s own Facebook page. Those notes are reportedly being taken down as soon as they are posted.
Jorge Salt & Co. has an LLC record with the Florida Department of State Division of Records filed in April 2015 (h/t Mi Mero Mole's Nick Zukin). The company posted a link to its own logo trademark paperwork, filed in May 2015. The company, owned by one "Jorge Salt," noted in its own post that its logo design is inspired by “Florida, old country style general store signs, Caribbean pirate lettering and the clear sparkling turquoise ocean.” And not at all by the runaway success of Oregon’s carefully curated patron saint of the briny dried stuff.
You be the judge.
Jacobsen Salt Co. owner Ben Jacobsen is staying mum on the subject of potential trademark infringement beyond this statement he shared with Eat Beat: “We have a plan in place and are fully confident we will come to a resolution. Can’t comment any more beyond that at this time.”
Update–April 6, 2016: A representative from Jorge Salt & Co. identifying himself as “Jorge Salt, Sea Salt Farmer & Founder” responded to Eat Beat today via email with a lawyer-y message that confirmed that the company has been in contact with Ben Jacobsen since “in and around” May 2015. The missive did not comment on the remarkable similarities in branding; instead going on in detail to confirm Jorge’s patent and trademark bona fides.
“[In May 2015] Mr. Jacobsen demanded that Jorge Salt & Company logo be removed as soon as possible and to destroy all work involved.” (Such demands can often be standard legalese in trademark disputes.)“Mr. Salt advised Mr. Jacobsen, that much time and money have been invested with the logo design with Sergio's Printing in Kendall, Florida, as well as trademark registration with Albert Bordas, P.A. in the City of South Miami, Florida…”
Of the flurry of indignant, Oregon-born Facebook messages about Jorge’s possible brand snatching posted over the weekend, Salt referred to a large "amount of aggressive pressure and or intimidation from folks related to Jacobsen Salt Company through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Phone Messages and Email. The intimidation went as far as to individuals whom have advertised/promoted Jorge Salt & Company in Florida. At this time, all aggressive and or intimidating comments are being recorded including a personal threat to the Salt family.”