Edwin Tomato says his family has had the name “Tomato” for centuries and all farmers and produce dealers owe him and his family back royalties for using his family name for their food product. “There is no evidence that any of my ancestors gave any farmer the right to use our name with the vegetable that it is associated with. This is an outright violation my families intellectual property rights.”
In the middle ages people thought tomatoes were poisonous and didn’t eat them. Tomato believes that his great, great, great x 24 grandfather in the 17th century was one of the first farmers to cultivate and popularize the eating of tomatoes, and then his name stuck. “That relative of mine and his sons and descendants who grew the vegetable were the only ones who had the right to use the name tomato. Everyone else owes us licensing fees for use of the name.
“It is as if right after Coke started selling their product and every other company that made a cola drink started calling themselves ‘Coke’ also. That is outright trademark infringement and that is what has been happening to my family for centuries. These trademark infringers need to
register their produce or come up with another name.”
Tomato says he is not being unreasonable and tried to make it easy for farmers and grocers to register their produce. The keeptomatoeslegal.com web site offers farmers an easy way to register their produce for only two cents a tomato.
“Remember, that even if you grow tomatoes in a private garden for your own private use you still must register each tomato. If you call them tomatoes without registering them you are breaking the law and you will be subject to criminal prosecution,” explained Tomato.
“Farmers are not the only violators of my family’s intellectual property rights. Grocery stores are buying illegal tomatoes all over the country and calling them tomatoes. This is an overt marketing of illegal tomatoes and it must stop. I have personally entered many grocery stores and demanded that they take down signs that say, ‘tomatoes.’ People react like I am a nut. But the crazy thing is these people’s ignorance of property laws.”
And people’s ignorance has cost Tomato in his fight for justice and his family’s rights. Police have thrown him in jail four times after he ripped up tomato signs in grocery stores.
Farmers like Regis McJalowski think the Tomato family is cracked, “Hell if I am going to pay them two cents a tomato. I grow thousands of those things and the profit is already marginal. How about if we just call them, ‘Ketchup meat?'”
That might not be a good idea. The Ketchup family in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania has just filed suit against hundreds of Ketchup producers for trademark infringement also.