When it comes to steamed crabs, there is usually one option — and the company that makes Old Bay seasoning, beloved and iconic in Baltimore, wants to keep it that way. McCormick, the Baltimore-based spice company that produces the popular seafood blend, filed suit in federal court on Monday for trademark infringement, seeking to prevent Pittsburgh-based Primal Palate from producing a similar spice blend it calls “New Bae.”
Primal Palate specializes in organic spices, and is geared toward consumers who follow the paleo diet. When it announced the spice blend in 2017, the company acknowledged that the name was “a terrible pun.” Bae is a slang acronym for a boyfriend or girlfriend that stands for “before anyone else.” Husband-and-wife founders Bill and Hayley Staley said they chose the name because it was playful.
“It was a nod to Old Bay,” Haley said. “We weren’t intending to create a replication of Old Bay.”
“Old Bay is obviously a respected, revered brand in American cupboards,” Bill said. “We never had any intention of confusion. Everything is spelled differently, it looks different.”