Jack Link's fighting counterfeit coupons

  • Article by: DAVID PHELPS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 26, 2013 - 10:04 PM

Sasquatch-size problem hurts company image, lawsuit argues.

Don’t go messin’ with Jack Link’s beef jerky.

The Minong, Wis.-based company that’s built its brand with the marketing theme of “Messin’ with sasquatch” has gone to federal court in Minnesota in an attempt to stop the distribution and sale of counterfeit coupons that claim to offer the popular jerky treat for free.

In a lawsuit filed earlier this month, attorneys for Jack Link’s are seeking permanent injunctions against up to 100 individuals or parties who are allegedly selling bogus coupons to consumers to redeem at retail outlets where the jerky is sold.

“Our ultimate concern is protecting the consumer and insuring a great experience with Jack Link’s,” said company spokesman Luke Friedrich in an interview Tuesday. “The most important way to protect a brand is to take care of consumers.”

Friedrich declined to say what the counterfeit coupons have cost the company, but the lawsuit says “thousands of dollars of fake coupons” have been cashed in at retail locations.

Jack Link’s can seek up to $2 million in damages from each of the offending parties, according to the lawsuit.

The unnamed and unknown defendants registered on eBay to sell the coupons using such names as danielretired, windstreamz and couponsaves2013, the suit said.

Some of the names have since been removed by eBay at the request of Jack Link’s, but the coupon counterfeiting continues and Jack Link’s wants eBay to provide the identities of the alleged offenders, according to the suit.

The lawsuit, filed by attorneys from the Minneapolis firm of Merchant & Gould, said the fake coupons violate trademark laws.

Warnings about the fake coupons have been distributed to retailers and posted on Facebook. Once a counterfeit coupon is redeemed, Jack Link’s is obligated to pay the retailer.

“Consumers who are denied the use of the coupons lost the money they spent to acquire the unofficial coupons,” the lawsuit says. “Further, they are likely to believe that Link Snacks offered the coupons, which harms the Link Snacks’ reputation and goodwill.’’

Legitimate coupons are in full color with an expiration date and a holographic security strip. The fake ones have no color or expiration date or holographic security strip, according to the lawsuit.

Jack Link’s has its marketing operation in Minneapolis where its ad agency, Carmichael Lynch, is located.

In the marketplace since 1985, Jack Link’s has been hugely popular in its snack category.

In the sasquatch advertisements, people tease the bigfoot-type creature by getting him to do things like sticking his tongue on a cold flagpole in winter. In the end, sasquatch gets revenge with his superhuman strength.

 

David Phelps • 612-673-7269

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