Traeger products are on display at the company’s office in Sugar House on Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017. | Laura Seitz, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Traeger Grills CEO Jeremy Andrus said he bears no ill will toward members of the Traeger family who, now two sales removed from the company, went to work last year for a competing pellet grill company.
But, Andrus does have a problem with the Traeger name, some iconic branding images and a number of design characteristics unique to the company being used in ways he believes are blatant violations of Traeger Grill’s intellectual property rights.
“Joe and Brian Traeger are free to earn a living by working for Dansons or any other company so long as they abide by the terms of our agreement,” Andrus said in a statement. “However, they are currently doing exactly what they agreed not to do — and what they were paid millions not to do — which is to use their names, likeness and reputations to confuse consumers, undermine the Traeger Grills brand and harm our company.
“We can no longer stand by while Joe and Brian Traeger violate our agreements and promote Dansons’ grills as if they were genuine Traegers.”
To that end, Traeger Grills has filed civil lawsuits against both Dansons, the maker of Pit Boss and Louisiana Grills, as well as Joe, Brian and Mark Traeger. The suits in Florida and Arizona allege that Dansons has been conducting a multiyear campaign to promote its grills as if they were Traegers, thereby confusing consumers and damaging Traeger Grills and its employees, according to the complaint.
Joe Traeger is the man credited with innovating the pellet grill, an outdoor cooker that uses processed, compressed wood pellets that feed a fire from an automated hopper. Traeger adapted the technique from pellet-fired wood stoves in the ’80s and went on to build a family-run business that sold for some $12.4 million in 2006 to a new corporate parent. According to the Traeger complaint, $9 million of that went to secure “the exclusive and perpetual right to use the Traeger name, likenesses and reputation in the wood pellet grill industry,” which transferred to Andrus and Trilantic Partners when they purchased the company in 2014.
Besides claims of similarity in features found on Traeger grills and grills made by Dansons’ brands, the complaint also details images used of a white barn in Oregon with the Traeger name on it that has since become part of the company’s branding imagery.
A photo featuring Joe and Brian Traeger, along with Dansons executives Dan Thiessen, Jeff Thiessen and Jordan Thiessen, was posted in a marketing release on the Dansons website along with the announcement of the Traegers’ hiring. The release also included statements that “the first pellet grill was born in 1983 in the signature Traeger Barn, which still sits as a landmark in Mount Angel, Oregon,” and “In this partnership, Traeger will be developing new pellet grilling products alongside Pit Boss founder and pellet grill innovator, Dan …read more
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