AUSTIN, TX and GILBERT, AZ (Feb. 17, 2009) – Turning a sour situation into an opportunity is what entrepreneurship is all about and with that, Sweet Leaf Tea and Wisdom Natural Brands, producer of SweetLeaf Sweetener, have agreed to settle their legal cases against each other.
“Soon after meeting with Jim May (CEO of Wisdom), I learned that we had a lot in common. Both of us are entrepreneurs, and we both have launched start-up companies into successful national brands. Our likemindedness gave me confidence that we would be able to settle this peacefully,” said Clayton Christopher, CEO and Founder of Sweet Leaf Tea.
May said “I was always hopeful that we would be able to resolve the legal differences between our companies in a way that would benefit both of us. I am now optimistic that the number one stevia sweetener in the country, SweetLeaf Sweetener™, will find itself in one or more of Clayton’s fine Sweet Leaf Tea beverages before too long. That would be a win-win situation for both us and our consumers.”
After several months of negotiations between the two companies, the case was settled amicably last week. In fact, as Christopher and May worked through negotiations, their respect for one another not only helped settle the case, but it has also developed into an opportunity to work together. Customers and distributors may soon be able to look forward to future projects from Sweet Leaf Tea and Wisdom, a sweet deal after all.
About Sweet Leaf Tea
Sweet Leaf Tea was founded in 1998 by Clayton Christopher, then 25, when he couldn’t find a bottle of iced tea that tasted like the delicious, homemade tea his grandmother used to make when he was growing up in Beaumont, Texas. Shortly thereafter, Christopher’s childhood friend, David Smith, joined the company and the two began production brewing their homespun tea in 25-gallon crawfish pots, using pillow cases as tea bags.
Made from all-natural ingredients, including purified water, organic cane sugar, and high-quality organic tea leaves, Sweet Leaf Tea is still made and brewed based on Clayton’s grandmother’s recipe and technique. Today, the company sells 11 classic iced-tea flavors as well as one lemonade flavor throughout the US in 16oz, 20oz, and 64oz packages. Retail prices range from $1.39 to $1.69. For more information, please visit www.sweetleaftea.com.
About Wisdom Natural Brands
Wisdom Natural Brands™ was founded in 1982 by Jim May, after learning of the healing herbs used by the Guarani natives of Paraguay for sweetening beverages and healing the body. During his first trip to Paraguay he was introduced to Yerba Mate, an energizing herbal tea that eliminated the allergy symptoms he had suffered for 35 years. His first brand was Wisdom of the Ancients®, under which he still markets several herbal teas, which contain stevia leaves that are 30 times sweeter than sugar and also improve health and well-being. In 1994 he developed the brand SweetLeaf™ and introduced numerous delicious stevia products made from the 300 times sweeter than sugar white powder extracted from stevia leaves. In March, 2008, after a year long study conducted by two independent groups of former FDA scientists SweetLeaf™ Stevia had achieved the coveted FDA status of GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) and could be marketed as a table top sweetener and as an ingredient in food and beverage. This new zero calorie, zero carbohydrate sweetener is the only completely natural stevia extract with only purified water touching the leaves during the total extraction process. There are no chemical residues or manmade aftertastes, as with other brands of stevia. For more information, please visit www.sweetleaf.com.
About the Legal Case
In May, 2008, SweetLeaf Sweetener producer, Wisdom, sent a cease and desist letter to Sweet Leaf Tea
demanding the company stop using “Sweet Leaf” in its name. Wisdom has been using the SweetLeaf name since
1994 and has a federally registered trademark for the name with a three-leaf design. Although Sweet Leaf Tea
does not own federally registered trademark rights for “Sweet Leaf”, it has been using the name for more than 10
years and is now nationally recognized. Sweet Leaf Tea responded to the cease and desist letter by filing a
lawsuit on May 29, 2008 against Wisdom to preserve its rights to use the Sweet Leaf name. The dispute was
settled amicably last week without any involvement from courts and the two companies hope to work together
in the future.