Big Easy defends against lawsuit filed by Chachere's

Tony's is the familiar green-- Big Easy's is red and they've shot new photos of the food they sold under the Chachere name for years. Big Easy partners deny claims by Tony's and say it's big business trying to keep a small company from growing.

For years the Lake Charles company known as French Market Foods has manufactured such delicacies as stuffed turkeys, tur-duc-hens, smoked sausage and boudins as well as gumbo-- right here off Ryan Street where production is underway. And they use their own secret recipes.

Since 2003,they've paid a fee to use the Tony Chachere name but not any more. Now they sell their products under their own name-- Big Easy. Company partners Mark Abraham and Larry Avery consider the packaging quite distinctive. Explains Abraham, "We produced a stuffed chicken and entrees and tur-duc-hens under their label. It was our recipes. As you can see here this is the old Tony Chachere that we marketed under-- chicken, our recipe, our dressing. And we have now changed to the Big Easy box which is a distinctive red and very different in appearance."

Big Easy officials say they have until mid October to distribute all their products under the old packaging. Says Avery, "This green packaging we can only sell for 90 days but we are no longer shipping that. That's been stopped since August 15th. We are now shipping the Big Easy food products in the red boxes."

Big Easy also has a shrimp processing plant in Dulac. When they decided to go off on their own, Big Easy officials say they consulted with experts in the field of trademark law and believe the lawsuit is without merit. Avery says, "Though we've been in business twelve years, we're still a smaller company than they are. And they're throwing their muscle and their money behind a lawsuit that has no merit."

Even though Big Easy can't ship in green packaging past October 15th they say consumers may still see such inventory in a few stores. But big easy officials say it's the exact same product as in the new red boxes.

So what does the Tony Chachere's company have to say about all this? The company says its trying to protect the brand it's worked hard for years to build and that's why they filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court.

Company President Don Chachere says Big Easy foods should find its own image.

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