Yellowstone creator Taylor Sheridan sues star Cole Hauser over coffee trademarks

Between the extended hiatus forced by the WGA & SAG-AFTRA strikes and Kevin Costner not even wanting to return, Yellowstone hasn’t aired any new episodes since January. So what has Taylor Sheridan — Yellowstone creator, writer, showrunner, director — been doing with himself this year? Coffee. Specifically, launching Bosque Ranch Craft Coffee, named after his production company. The only hitch is, a new coffee cowboy has strolled into town, and it’s Yellowstone cast member Cole Hauser. So now Sheridan is suing his show’s star, Hauser, over Hauser’s Free Rein Coffee logo looking too similar to Bosque Ranch’s logo. I’ll give him credit, this is a plot twist I did not see coming.

“Lawyers are the swords of this century,” a young John Dutton once told his son in Yellowstone. “Words are weapons now.” The man who wrote those words wasn’t kidding. Taylor Sheridan, scribe and creator of the popular western drama, has had his legal sword unsheathed all year. Due to behind-the-scenes contract disputes between Sheridan and leading man Kevin Costner, Yellowstone hasn’t had a new episode since January. Now, the Dutton progenitor’s camp is in another legal tussle with another one of his stars. This time? It’s over coffee.

Earlier this fall, Cole Hauser, who plays the fan-favorite cattle rancher Rip Wheeler, launched Free Rein, his very own coffee company. The company sells an espresso blend titled “American Dirt” — and the packaging boasts that it’s the drink of choice for early risers and hard-working cowboys. “I am American Dirt,” Hauser told Esquire when Free Rein first launched this fall. “So, I just wanted to do something that sounded original, patriotic, and filthy.”

Around the same time — during the SAG-AFTRA strike and Yellowstone’s indefinite hiatus — more Yellowstone-adjacent coffee companies hit the market. Costner partnered with Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Paramount released a line of coffee and steak rubs with on-screen chef Gabriel “Gator” Guilbeau, and Sheridan launched a Bosque Ranch Craft Coffee collaboration with Keurig. For the Yellowstone creator’s empire, this town, apparently, wasn’t big enough for all four of ‘em.

According to the Northern District of Texas’ federal court, the Sheridan-owned Bosque Ranch sued Free Rein for trademark infringement shortly after its launch. The complaint alleges that the “FR” brand logo for Free Rein is strikingly similar to Bosque Ranch’s “BR” design. According to San Angelo Live, “This resemblance, Bosque Ranch contends, is likely to cause consumer confusion.” Neither Free Rein nor Bosque Ranch have commented publicly on the filings.

As the future of Yellowstone remains up in the air, it’s quite an interesting move from Sheridan to sue what loyal stars he has left. The series will already most likely end without Costner’s involvement, according to Hollywood insider Matthew Belloni. That fact alone may have already been the final nail in the coffin for Yellowstone fans to diminish the upcoming series finale next November. But now, a strike against Hauser as well? The fall of the house of Dutton may just be a war waged off-screen.

[From Yahoo! Entertainment]

Do the “BR” and “FR” logos look alike? Yes, they do, and you can check them out here. But there are clear differences when you compare them side by side. I’m not sure how literally trademark law gets applied to logo graphics in these cases. Cole Hauser probably should have done better due diligence to make sure that Free Rein’s logo looked more distinctive. He’s kind of offered up this lawsuit to Taylor Sheridan on a silver platter (or cardboard coffee cup, if you will). For his part, Sheridan could probably do with less caffeine and more chill pills. But he must soldier on! Not for himself, but for the legions of Bosque Ranch coffee drinkers who expect quality brews, the kind that only Sheridan can deliver. Much the same way that only he can write authentic Western soap operas. Bosque Ranchers know great coffee when they taste it. They just don’t know a “B” from an “F,” LOL.

Photos credit: Brandi Benton/ Images, IMAGO/RW / Avalon and via Instagram

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