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Stash Tea burned by Beaverton pot shop name

COURTESY PHOTO: UNIVERSAL TEA CO. INC. - Stash Tea Co. has been selling tea for more than 40 years. The company is suing a small Beaverton pot shop over the name 'stash.'When you think “stash,” you think about . . . .

That’s the problem.

Tigard’s Stash Tea Co. is suing the small Beaverton Stash Cannabis Co. for trademark infringement because the international company is concerned the pot shop’s name could confuse potential tea customers.

Stash Tea, which began in Portland more than 40 years ago, has owned the “stash” trademark since 1972. Its lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court, ironically, on April 20 (4/20 in marijuana parlance), claims that the Beaverton pot dispensary’s use of the name damages its reputation by making people think the tea company is getting into the marijuana business.

“Defendants, by misappropriating and using the likenesses of Stash Tea’s trademarks in connection with the sale of marijuana, and marijuana-related products and services, have passed off their products as those of Stash Tea,” according to the company’s complaint filed by attorney Susan D. Pitchford of Chernoff Vilhauer LLP in Portland.

COURTESY PHOTO: STASH CANNABIS CO. - The owner of Beaverton's Stash Cannabis Co. says he will fight a trademark infringement lawsuit because no on would confuse a pot shop for the international tea company.Not so, says Chris Matthews of Hillsboro, owner of Stash Cannabis Co.'s shop at 9952 S.W. Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway. Matthews says the company has hired a trademark attorney to fight the lawsuit.

Besides, Matthews says, no one is going to confuse a 2,400-square-foot pot shop with the international tea company.

“I think they’re overstepping their bounds here,” Matthews says. “We use the name Stash Cannabis in everything we do. We don’t just say ‘stash.’

“I don’t see where anyone would confuse the two companies.”

Matthews operates just one shop, but is considering expanding in the future.

Captains’ secret tea supply

Stash Tea Co. was founded in Portland in 1972 in a Victorian-style house where loose herbal tea was packaged and sold in bulk to natural food stores. Today, the company’s headquarters are on Southwest 72nd Avenue in Tigard. The company also has a retail shop and tea bar on North Mississippi Avenue in Portland.

According to the company website, the name came from “tea folklore,” in which ship captains kept a “stash” of the finest teas for their personal use during voyages.

The Universal Tea Co. Inc., which owns Stash Tea, holds trademarks on the name in the United States and several other nations, according to court documents. The distinctive Stash name and symbols have built up a lot of goodwill around the world, Pitchford wrote in an Oct. 15 letter to Matthews, which would be eroded if tea customers thought the company also sold recreational and medical marijuana. That “unwelcome association” was the basis for the lawsuit, Pitchford wrote.

The company is also seeking an injunction, which could force the Beaverton shop to immediately stop using the "Stash" name.

No court date has been set for the lawsuit.

Kevin L. Harden is digital media editor for Pamplin Media Group. 503-546-5167. email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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