Sriracha’s founder could have made millions of dollars from trademarking the name.
The hugely popular Asian hot sauce’s title has been used by brands like Heinz and Frito-Lay.
But David Tran, the Vietnamese refugee who started the brand, has only received small royalties from his invention, reports David Pierson at The Los Angeles Times.
“Everyone wants to jump in now,” Tran, 70, told the LATimes. “We have lawyers come and say ‘I can represent you and sue’ and I say ‘No. Let them do it.'”
Tran says he sees products like Heinz Sriracha ketchup as free marketing for his brand.
Sriracha has never had a marketing budget, according to Pierson.
Tran says that he’s proud of the spin-offs, and even searches the internet for them.
But now, Tabasco is releasing a spin-off that will be labelled as Sriracha.
Tran fears that the much-larger company will overtake his beloved product. Tobasco will release its sauce in the US in the next few weeks.
Still, Sriracha’s sales are soaring, and the company is seen as the gold standard in the industry.
A legal expert told the LATimes that it’s probably too late for Tran to reclaim his product name.
“The ship has probably sailed on this, which is unfortunate because they have clearly added something to American cuisine that wasn’t there before,” Kelly McCarthy, partner at law firm Sideman & Bancroft, told Pierson.
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