Saskatoon hummus maker gets a wedgie from Hanes underwear

Saskatoon hummus maker Yohannes Petros received a cease-and-desist letter from Hanesbrands International earlier this month.

Corporate giant feels Hanes Hummus infringes on trademark

Yohannes Petros is the owner of Hanes Hummus. (Trevor Bothorel/CBC)

A local hummus maker is facing off against a global clothing giant.

Earlier this month, Yohannes Petros got a cease and desist letter from Hanesbrands Incorporated. Petros said it came a few weeks after he tried to register the name Hanes Hummus with trademark officials in Canada and the United States. 

The clothing giant believes the name is too close for comfort.

"The mark HANES HUMMUS is essentially identical and confusingly similar to the HANES mark," said associate general counsel Richard S. Donnell in the letter from Hanes. "Your client's mark incorporates the distinctive HANES mark in its entirety and the mere addition of the generic wording HUMMUS does not distinguish the marks." 

Fighting back

Petros, who has been making his hummus in Saskatoon for more than four years, said he knew the letter wasn't a joke but he was still surprised that a large T-shirt and underwear manufacturer thought customers would confuse the two products. 

"Immediately I thought it was ridiculous but I knew it needed to be addressed," he said.

Hanes Hummus and Hanesbrands Inc. products (CBC)
​So Petros contacted a California-based attorney, Nathan Dooley, who has now responded to the letter from Hanes Brands International.

"I am confident that HBI is not in the food production business at all, let alone the production of fine and tasty hummus of the type manufactured and sold by Hanes Hummus," Dooley wrote in his response. "In view of these facts, there appears to be no danger of confusion between HBI's mark, and the Hanes Hummus mark."

What's in a name?

Because his first name is Yohannes, Petros said his nickname has been "Hanes" for years, which is what led him to use it for the name of his business. 

"Although the spelling is the same, it's not like I'm calling my company, you know, Hanes and then in small letters, "hummus," he said. "It's 'Hanes Hummus'. That's what it's being branded as, right? So that's how the name came about. It stems from my name."

He said customers have never joked about his hummus being associated with T-shirts or underwear.

"Here's you know, a large multinational just being a bully."

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