While it may have looked like a clandestine transaction when Kate and Ethan Zuckerman pulled up behind Mas and began selling their product out of the back of a Honda Civic, the off-the-grid sales weren’t illegal. They were delivering the fermented tea known as kombucha, desired by adherents who crave its probiotic properties.
Since the couple started selling Barefoot Bucha in 2010, the health-conscious entrepreneurs living the small-footprint life in the wilds of Afton have continued to make their beverage in flavors like Bluegrass Bucha, Elderflower Sunrise and the most popular, Ginger, which are now distributed in 44 locations, including Washington, D.C., and Maryland.
And when they say “big taste, small footprint,” they mean it. For them, BYOB means bring your own bottle that they’ve sold you to buy their kombucha, and bring it back for refills again and again.
Then they did what any growing business might do and attempted to trademark the name Barefoot Bucha.
Trademark experts say even though a company may have a great case, the cost for making that case in the first round in the United States Patent and Trademark Office could cost as much as $200,000—and Gallo is likely to appeal. And Barefoot Bucha is not the first mom-and-pop business to have a corporate giant come after it for its name with dubious claims of consumer confusion, a term known as “trademark bullying.”