Jim Amaral had been operating his Waldoboro-based bakery, Bodacious Breads, for just two years when he got a phone call from a Los Angeles-based cinnamon bun company that was looking to sell its products nationally.
The company, Bodacious Buns, trademarked its name several years before Amaral even opened shop, and they wanted him to remove the word “bodacious” from his bakery’s name.
“It was certainly disappointing,” Amaral said Wednesday. “You think, ‘OK, we’re just getting started, we’re on a little bit of a roll, and boy the timing is not great. [If] you change the name you wonder, well how’s that going to affect your recognizability in the marketplace?’”
Amaral’s run in with this trademark issue occurred more than 20 years ago, and after changing the bakery’s name to Borealis Breads, the business has only grown.
Last week another Maine business, Mason’s Brewing Co. in Brewer, said it’s facing a similar trademark issue with a brewery from Oregon over the name of Mason’s flagship beer: Hipster Apocalypse IPA. On Tuesday, Mason’s said they’ve reached a tentative agreement with 10 Barrel Brewing Co. that would allow Mason’s to continue to use the name Hipster Apocalypse IPA, as long as the company only sells its beer in the Northeast.
This agreement would prevent Mason’s from entering a costly legal battle to try and keep the name of its signature product ― a fight that Amaral said he never thought about entering when Bodacious Buns asked him to change the name of his business.
“They clearly had the trademark,” Amaral said. “You only have so many dollars you can work with and you really want to put it toward things that are going to be productive, whether it be machinery or training your staff. And when it comes to the legal issues, in my mind, it’s just not a productive use of your resources.”
But when forced to change the name of his business, Amaral took a creative approach.
To come up with a new name, Amaral launched a naming contest in which folks could submit their suggestions for what to rename Bodacious Breads. The person who submitted the winning name would receive two free loaves of bread every week for a year.
While Amaral was initially concerned that changing the name of his business would impair the ability for customers to recognize his brand, the naming contest turned out to be a winning idea to make more people aware of the bakery.
About 1,200 suggestions were submitted in the contest. Borealis Breads ultimately was the winner, because the alliteration amused Amaral and its connotation to being from the north.
Borealis Breads was actually submitted by two individuals, meaning that yes, for an entire year the bakery gave out four free loaves of bread every week.
Despite the contest being more than 20 years ago Amaral said there are a few name suggestions that stand out. One patron suggested that the bakery be renamed “Crustaceous Breads,” and went as far as to submit a sketch of a lobster holding a crusty loaf of bread in its claw.
Another top contender was “My Grains of Maine,” due to the fact the bakery focuses on sourcing grains from Maine. However, Amaral decided that sounded too much like “Migraines of Maine”
Borealis Breads has risen to success in the time since this trademark dispute, opening a second bakery store in Wells and selling its products to over 250 wholesale accounts.
But if you’re wondering where you can get your hands on a Bodacious Buns’ cinnamon bun, you’re out of luck. As it turns out, the company went out of business shortly after Bodacious Breads became Borealis Breads.
“They were just so adamant that [they] were going national, this is going to be a big deal,” Amaral said. “As it turns out, it wasn’t.