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National BBQ chain says it will stop using takeout bags with image, logo that resemble those of Boise pitmaster

Dickey’s Barbecue Pit decided to change out its takeout bags after they caused a Boise pitmaster serious heartburn.

Brad Taylor, owner of BBQ4Life, believes that Dickey’s used his likeness and business logo on their products, including cups and takeout bags. He considered sending the company a cease and desist but couldn’t afford it.

The Statesman and other local media reached out to Dickey’s last week to find out if the company was aware of the situation. In a written statement Monday, the company apologized for causing confusion and upset:

“At Dickey’s, our franchisees are local business owners and we consider them a part of our extended family. As such, we support and respect other hard working local business owners who are passionate about great barbecue. Dickey’s believes in authentic barbecue and healthy competition, and never intended to cause confusion nor upset within the barbecue community. Dickey’s is in the process of changing out stock of our takeout bags at all Dickey’s stores in the Boise market and beyond. We look forward to serving our loyal guests delicious barbecue in less confusing takeout bags.”

Callie Head, a spokeswoman for Dickey’s, said she wasn’t with the company when this issue first surfaced.

“It wasn’t intentional at all, and we don’t want to offend anybody,” she said. “We are rectifying the situation.”

On Monday afternoon, Taylor said he’d heard the company put out some sort of statement because his FB page was blowing up — but had been too busy working to find out what they said until a reporter called.

“Right now I’m kind of on Cloud 9 because they said they’re going to stop doing it,” Taylor said.

He had considered sending a cease and desist order last year but didn’t have the money to spend. He’s received many offers of help from friends and local attorneys since this issue became widely known.

“I’ll have to read the statement myself and see what kind of the tone is on it. I’m not champing at the bit to pursue anything [litigation],” Taylor said.

Here’s our story from last week:

Brad Taylor is a small-business owner with big dreams — and he feels like the nation’s largest barbecue chain has stolen his mojo.

Taylor, who opened Boise’s BBQ4Life at 930 S. Vista Ave. in 2014, said he started getting strange messages from people around the country last year. Some wondered whether he was working with Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, a barbecue chain with nearly 600 locations around the U.S.

“After I got a second or third message, I went down to a local Dickey’s,” Taylor said Thursday.

He was surprised to see images on a Dickey’s cup that looked a lot like him and his business logo. As he was holding it, the woman at the register noticed the same thing, he recalled.

“She said, “Hey, why are you on our stuff?’ I said, ‘That’s a very good question,’ ” Taylor said.

Taylor believed Dickey’s used his likeness and his logo — fists with BBQ4Life tattooed on fingers (just as Taylor has in real life) — on their 75th anniversary promotional materials, including take-out bags. He consulted a trademark attorney about his options.

“He said, ‘Yes, you have a case, but it’s not a guarantee you would win,’ ” Taylor said.

He said he spent $1,000 on an attorney, who looked into sending a cease and desist order and beginning the process of trademarking his business name and logo. Ultimately, he did not have the money to go through with either of those things. He’s never heard from anyone at Dickey’s.

Taylor said he had BBQ4Life tattooed on his fingers in June 2014, and he created his logo based on that soon after.

Dickey’s did not respond to a phone call and email Thursday requesting comment about the situation.

Taylor said the issue bubbled up again recently, when he saw some Dickey’s bags left behind after a party at Ironwood Social. He snapped a picture of the bags and posted it on his Facebook page.

“They’re blatantly stealing my image and logo, whether they know it or not,” Taylor told the Statesman. “Unless I want to risk a bunch of money I don’t have, there’s nothing I can do about it.”

It’s upsetting and frustrating for the entrepreneur. His dream is to open barbecue restaurants in every state.

“This isn’t just about the restaurant,” Taylor said. “This is me. It’s my whole life. It’s my face. I just prefer that none of this had ever happened.”

Katy Moeller: 208-377-6413, @KatyMoeller

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