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The Boston Globe reports this morning that Ahold-owned Stop & Shop has filed a lawsuit against Whole Foods, “accusing the high-end grocer of violating its trademark by using ‘The Real Deal’ in its marketing efforts.”

According to the story, “Stop & Shop Supermarket Co. and its sister grocery chain, Giant Food, recently launched a Real Deal advertising campaign in stores and promotional programs to identify ways for consumers to save money as the costs of gas, food, and other products continue to rise. Three weeks later, Stop & Shop alleges, Whole Foods Market Inc. began using ‘The Real Deal’ trademark in a blog where staff and customers post money-saving tips, in a quarterly guide featuring specially priced items, and through weekly value-shopping tours which feature employees showing customers how to shop economically. Whole Foods also has in-store signs, labeled ‘Real Steal,’ identifying specially priced items.”

Stop & Shop is asking the courts “to order Whole Foods, based in Austin, Texas, to shut down its Real Deal blog and destroy all signs, labels, prints, packages, wrappers, receptacles, brochures, and advertisements bearing the Real Deal mark.” Whole Foods is reviewing its options and next steps, according to the story.

KC's View:
Normally, one wouldn’t ever confuse Stop & Shop with Whole Foods. And that isn’t a slam on Stop & Shop…it is hard to imagine Whole Foods being able to convince people that its nickname, Whole Paycheck, isn’t deserved.

Why would it want to?

Though clearly Whole Foods is working the issue hard. Ironically, today’s Austin American-Statesman has a story this morning noting that in an effort to bring in value-minded consumers during times of economic stress, “Whole Foods launched a newsletter, ‘The Real Deal,’ with coupons and tips to help customers stretch their grocery budget further. The natural foods chain even offers tours, led by a ‘value guru,’ to help shoppers on a budget navigate its two Austin stores.”

I have no idea how the court case will turn out. But I think it fair to say that the bigger challenge to Whole Foods in this area won’t be legal.