A big time online corporation is targeting a small town Polk County business. eBay says a Web-based market place called NatureBay is too similar to its own trademark.
“We just feel it's not easy to find things that are organic all of the time,” Justin Lewis, the Winter Haven entrepreneur said.
Lewis started the online business about four years ago. His father had passed away from lung cancer, motivating him to start on a path of a healthier life-style which eventually turned into NatureBay. Four years of his own work, his own money and now a small team which runs the business to promote local organic options.
“I put in everything,” Lewis said.
eBay isn’t asking for money, rather for him to change the name and apply for a different trademark. According to the 45 page lawsuit, the corporation says the name NatureBay is much too close to the online seller, eBay. It also points out the reasoning, stating the similarities could cause confusion for customers.
“It's a complete shock one eBay did this, it's like really? First of all, I'm just shocked that they are feeling threatened by us at all,” Lewis said.
Lewis thinks the lawsuit is about more than only the name. He is also a Polk County teacher and says the actions from the large corporation feels like harassment and very similar to bullying the small guys.
“Should people start trademarking letters to? Maybe I should just chart trademark the letter A…B…C…” Lewis joked. “Our whole mission is to empower the little guys who are trying to do good for the community,” he added.
Despite the difference in finances and the fact that Lewis doesn’t have a lawyer yet, he still stands a chance.
Other small business have fought off corporations and won.
In 2016 MonsterFishKeepers took on the Monster Energy drink company and won the right to sell the name on it’s T-Shirts. The company only wanted to print the logo and sell it to other fisherman who enjoy talking about “Monster” fish.
Before that, a Malaysian restaurant won an eight year battle against McDonalds for the right to keep it’s name, McCurry.
“That's the way big corporations win, they don't win because they are legally right they win because they can fight forever they have billions of dollars to fight forever and who is going to dare challenge them?” Lewis asked.
Lewis says he is going to see how it goes through the next few hearings with out representation. And says he’s ready for the long haul and a bitter fight to the end.
“At the end of the day the only way eBay is going to win is if people don't find out about it,” Lewis said.
ABC Action News did reach out to eBay for comment, the director of communications has declined to comment.