After she said Nike filed an opposition to her trademark, the owner of an online succulent store, Just Succ It, is turning to TikTok for help fighting the sportswear giant
Andrea Galbreath recently went viral after posting about her legal dilemma on TikTok. She's using the platform to get advice from users in fighting a cease-and-desist from the sportswear giant.
“I didn’t know what to do ... I thought, well if I post something, someone’s going to leave a comment that will put me in the right direction,” Galbreath told NBC News. “And maybe someone has been through this before and they could say, ‘This happened to me and this is what I did.’”
The Southern California-based small business owner first fell in love with the hardy plants while trying to make her front yard drought-tolerant by planting rows of succulents instead of grass. She thought of the name Just Succ It after “a couple of glasses of wine,” and decided to buy the domain name in case she wanted to start a succulent-themed blog.
When she lost her job as a social worker at the start of the pandemic, which Galbreath calls the "coronapocalypse," she began making and selling succulent gift arrangements. In the years since she launched the shop, Galbreath has also expanded her products to include custom planters, gift boxes and succulent-themed novelty items with cheeky phrases inspired by the shop's name.
She created an LLC using the name in July 2020, and after seeing another online store copy the name, filed to trademark it in April 2021. On Jan. 4, the trademark was published.
Soon after, she said she received a notice from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) that Nike had filed an opposition notice to the trademark because of the name's similarity to Nike's "Just Do It" slogan.
Nike did not immediately respond to NBC News’ request for comment.
Her first video about her plight has 471,000 views. Her follow-up video garnered 2.1 million views.
Within days of posting the videos on TikTok, Galbreath said she received a cease-and-desist letter from Nike. The letter, which was reviewed by NBC News, stated that the company had to take steps to ensure that the public wouldn't confuse Just Succ It with Nike's own products. It also claimed that the name infringed upon the "distinctiveness" of Nike's "Just Do It."
"Nobody has ever, ever considered my small business to be remotely similar to Nike," Galbreath added. "They've never thought of the name, because when people hear 'Just Succ It,' they're 'SUCK,' they're not thinking 'SUCC,' and they're certainly not thinking the word 'do.' It's such a huge stretch."
Galbreath said that fighting the opposition will be prohibitively expensive — lawyers she spoke to for guidance said that legal fees could cost $50,000 to $100,000, and it could take years for a decision.
"That could ruin a small business," she continued. "And that's why they do that, because they know that most small businesses are not going to try to fight a corporation like them."
In its cease-and-desist letter to Galbreath, the company wrote that it would be willing to work with her to determine a "reasonable time" to transition from Just Succ It to a different name. Nike requested a response to the letter by Feb. 4.
Galbreath is still "trying to figure out a strategy" to fight Nike. In the meantime, she plans to keep using the name for her business.
"It's mine. I plan on using it until I can't," she said. "The cease-and-desist is just a letter. It's not an order from the court. It's a bullying tactic that they're sending to me to look scary."
She said that people online have been "really supportive," with some even offering to set up a GoFundMe page to crowdfund legal fees.
She's also connected with lawyers through TikTok who have given her advice on how to handle the legal battle. And if she does have to rebrand, "there's still wine involved" in brainstorming a new shop name.
"I'm choosing to see this as an opportunity to grow and thrive in the way that my succulents do," Galbreath said. "I hope that the takeaway is that people can see that no matter what life throws at them, they have the ability to adapt and thrive, and have fun doing it even though sometimes it sucks."