Jacksonville company — Dee’s Nuts — sues company tied to YouTube star MrBeast, claiming trademark infringement

This year, Jimmy Donaldson, better known as YouTube superstar “MrBeast,” has raked in an incredible $54 million in earnings. That figure and his vast influence made him No. 1 on Forbes’ recently released list of the top creators of 2023.

MrBeast, 25, made his fortune using a long list of revenue streams that include posting highly produced and sometimes controversial videos to his 189 million YouTube followers, selling merch and through his Feastables snack food line.

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But MrBeast may have to part with at least some of those earnings thanks to a Jacksonville-based company — Dee’s Nuts.

The Feastables line of products, which includes candy bars sold in dozens of stores across the country, includes three flavors, but it was the milk chocolate and peanut butter flavored MrBeast bar — “DEEZ NUTZ” — that caught the attention of Dees Nuts LLC because of its name.

In August, Dee’s Nuts filed a federal civil lawsuit against Feastables Inc. alleging trademark violation.

“Feastables Inc. has used and continues to use the DEE’S NUTS® registered trademark, or a confusingly similar and phonetically equivalent thereof,” the Jacksonville company wrote in its lawsuit, adding it filed for its trademark in 2012.

According to its website, Dee’s Nuts has used the name to sell millions of dollars of gourmet flavored peanuts and apparel each year. The company said it expects to make between $4 million and $5 million in 2023.

Brian Ditore, owner of the company, said he chose the name based on his grandmother, Adeline D’amore, who many knew as “Mrs. Dee.”

“Her laughter and belief that life should not be taken too seriously inspired Brian A. Ditore to select a trademark that paid homage to her and her comedic flair, hence DEE’S NUTS was created,” the lawsuit reads.

In 2016, the company put its logo and slogan — “GRAB DEES NUTS” — on the side of a truck and trailer and went on tour to events like a NASCAR Championship Race in Homestead, the Navy Exchange Mall in Jacksonville and the Cowboy Christmas Show in Las Vegas, according to the complaint.

In total, Dee’s Nuts says it has spent over $600,000 in marketing for its products including flavors like cool ranch, dill pickle and hot cheddar.

In 2017, the Jacksonville company started to expand and can now be purchased in major retailers like Walgreens, 7-Eleven and Walmart.

MrBeast’s products are also available in Walmart stores and the Jacksonville company claims that when searching Walmart.com for “dees nuts” and “deesnuts,” results for Feastables show up, but no results for Dee’s Nuts.

In February 2023, the Jacksonville company said it first learned that Feastables was using “the confusingly similar and phonetically” similar name and sent a cease and desist letter to Feastables.

Two months later, Dee’s Nuts said it got a letter back from Feastables lawyers that said the company would continue to use the name.

A few days after Dees Nuts LLC filed the initial lawsuit against Feastables, the company’s lawyers also filed a preliminary injunction, asking a judge to order Feastables to stop using the similar name.

In a response filed with the court, lawyers for Feastables pushed back against the claims by the Jacksonville peanut company and said the phrase “deez nuts” was originally popularized by hip-hop artist and producer Dr. Dre after he released his first studio album, “The Chronic.”

“Millions of people on the internet have come to use the phrase ‘deez nuts’ as an irreverent way to interject humor or sarcasm into or end a conversation. In fact, ‘deez nutz’ ultimately landed in the Urban Dictionary and is defined as a euphemism and slang term,” the lawyers for Feastables wrote.

The lawyers argued the idea use of “low-brow humor” phrase was not original and other snack food businesses selling nuts have used it.

Lawyers for Feastables also claimed that while the company promotes its overall brand, it does not invest in the promotion of individual product flavors, like “DEEZ NUTZ.”

Feastables said the name of the candy bar was picked because of the popularity of the “common slogan” and is a direct reference to the ingredients, and “because it believed its audience would think it was a funny play on a well-known and widely used meme.”

The lawyers also argued the product is not sold on the same aisle as Dee’s Nuts in Walmart, Dee’s Nuts has not proved there is confusion in the marketplace, and the two logos are different.

MrBeast’s lawyers also said the sales figures of Dee’s Nuts are “objectively unimpressive” and there isn’t enough marketplace recognition to demonstrate commercial strength.

“Further, the marks are not spelled the same, nor do they look the same, with Plaintiff’s mark using ‘S’ and Defendant’s mark using ‘Z,’ the court filing reads.

The Jacksonville company claimed in its lawsuit that the continued use of the name by Feastables “has caused and will likely continue to cause consumer confusion in the marketplace.”

Dee’s Nuts said it has been accused of being the one infringing on the intellectual property rights of MrBeast even though it has held its trademark for more than a decade.

Following the court filings and a court hearing that was scheduled and then postponed, court records indicated the issue could be coming to an end.

According to a court filing on Sept. 21, the two sides reached a settlement agreement in principle. The judge then canceled a court hearing scheduled for the following day and directed lawyers to update the court on the status of the settlement by Oct. 6.

It’s unclear if the terms of the settlement will be made public once an agreement is reached.

The “DEEZ NUTZ” snack bar is still available for purchase on the Feastables website as of Wednesday for the cost of $29.99 for a 10-pack. The webpage includes a photo of a smiling MrBeast holding one of the candy bars.

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