Chinook USA alleges breach of contract in dispute over licensing of Duck Commander drinks

By Hoang Tran | Feb 5, 2016

MONROE – A merchandising agreement over beverages associated with the show "Ducky Dynasty" is the subject of a dispute between several companies.

Chinook USA LLC filed a lawsuit Jan. 25 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District Court of Louisiana against Duck Commander Inc., Dahleen Associates Inc., 3292 Brands LLC, Checkered Flag Business LLC and Go-Time Energy LLC, claiming that defendants breached the contract, infringed on trademarks and violated the Louisiana Unfair Trade Practices Act.

Chinook asserts that on or around Jan. 7, 2014, it entered in a merchandising license agreement with Duck Commander. The suit states that Duck Commander granted Chinook the exclusive right and license to use, manufacture, have manufactured, sell, distribute and advertise tea and ready-to-drink beverages bearing or referring to Duck Commander’s trademarks and images associated with Duck Commander Family Foods, Si Robertson and/or Uncle Si. Chinook claims that the exclusive license was for an initial term of five years and it allegedly agreed to pay $250,000 to Duck Commander and an annual guaranteed minimum royalty of $1 million paid in quarterly installments. Chinook alleges Duck Commander agreed to facilitate marketing and advertising of said endorsed products.

On Jan. 18, 2014, the plaintiff allegedly transferred $1 million to Duck Commander and then made two additional transfers of $250,000 each on June 28, 2014, and Sept. 26, 2014. The total transfers allegedly amounted to $1.75 million pursuant to the agreement.

However, Chinook alleges that the defendants failed or refused to facilitate and implement the marketing strategies that were agreed upon. Chinook further claims that in November 2014, representatives for the defendants informed Chinook that A&E, the network responsible for the "Duck Dynasty" reality show, had full control over the day-to-day activities of the personalities of Duck Commander and the licensed properties. Chinook also alleges that on or around November 2014, it discovered that the defendants had apparently licensed the properties to other manufacturers and distributors of ready-to-drink beverages in direct contradiction of the exclusive license agreement made between the parties.

The plaintiff is suing for a recovery of its funds transferred to defendants; compensatory, statutory, treble and punitive damages; cost of suit; attorney fees; and any other relief deemed just by the court. It is seeking a jury trial and is represented by Robert M. Baldwin of Hudson, Potts & Bernstein LLP in Monroe.

U.S. District Court for the Western District Court of Louisiana Case number 3:16-CV-00113-RGJ-KLH

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