“Yellowstone” co-creator Taylor Sheridan and the show’s star Cole Hauser are hashing out a legal dispute over a cup of coffee.
Sheridan’s brand, Bosque Ranch, which launched a coffee brand earlier this year, is accusing Hauser’s own coffee brand, Free Rein, of copyright infringement, according to court records obtained by The Times. The lawsuit alleges Hauser’s “FR” logo looks “confusingly similar” to Sheridan’s “BR” branding.
The complaint, filed Nov. 21 in a federal courthouse in San Angelo, Texas, seeks a jury trial and any profit made by Free Rein Coffee as well as payment for any profit losses Bosque Ranch may have suffered. The suit also demands that Hauser’s company “destroy all products, marketing, and promotional materials” with the “FR” brand on it.
In 2004, Sheridan, who also acts in “Yellowstone” as cowboy Travis Wheatley, named his entertainment production company Bosque Ranch Productions, the lawsuit said. From there, the Oscar-nominated screenwriter used the name in his other business ventures, such as a company managing horses used in TV shows, an event managing company and his Bosque Ranch headquarters in Weatherford, Texas.
All of his ventures bear similar branding of his “BR” logo, in which the two letters overlap. The logo appeared in several “Yellowstone” scenes. Sheridan’s production company obtained a federal copyright for the branding in 2020, the suit said.
In June, Bosque Ranch launched a coffee brand, with Baton Rouge, La.-based Community Coffee, inspired by “the Cowboy way of life,” the court document said, referring to a June 21 news release. The brand leans into Sheridan’s history managing horses and popular Texas ranches. His “BR” logo is prominently stamped on the front of each bag of coffee beans.
Months later, in October, Hauser announced the launch of his Free Rein Coffee Co., its products bearing an “FR” logo with overlapping lettering. A statement said Hauer’s brand was “born from the cowboy tradition.” The company’s website also said Hauser, who owned a horse ranch in Agoura Hills, drew inspiration from “the life of a working cowboy.” Around the same time, the suit alleges Hauser also applied for a federal copyright “despite Bosque Ranch’s clear prior use.”
“Neither Hauser nor the Defendants asked or received permission or authorization of Sheridan or Bosque Ranch to use a mark confusingly similar to the BR Brand for virtually identical goods,” the complaint said.
A legal representative for Hauser did not immediately respond to The Times’ request for comment.
The lawsuit between the “Yellowstone” collaborators arrives amid the hit Paramount+ show’s ongoing behind-the-scenes drama.
Since the fifth season of the blockbuster neo-western premiered in fall 2022, viewers were left to wonder about the future of the show. After reports that Paramount Network and one of the show’s central performers, Kevin Costner, were at odds over the direction of “Yellowstone,” Costner, Sheridan, Hauser and several other major cast members were no-shows for PaleyFest, the Paley Center for Media’s annual event in Los Angeles in April.
Then, in May, Paramount announced that the fifth season would be the flagship series’ last, with the final batch of episodes premiering later this year. But due to the actors’ strike, which ended last month after more than four months, the show delayed the release of its final batch of episodes for November 2024.
Costner confirmed this fall that he would not be returning for the show’s conclusion.
During a child support hearing in September, Costner revealed he left “Yellowstone” after he and the studios failed to strike a deal to ensure his continued commitment.
“I couldn’t help them anymore,” he said, according to People. “We tried to negotiate, they offered me less money than previous seasons, there were issues with the creative.” During the hearing, he also said he would “probably go to court” over his compensation for the second half of Season 5.
Sheridan spoke to the Hollywood Reporter in June about Costner’s exit and the challenges he faced bringing the series, and Costner’s character, John Dutton, to a close. He also weighed in on Costner’s next directing venture. The Oscar-winning “Dances With Wolves” filmmaker will direct and co-write a four-film series titled “Horizon,” which was at the center of his alleged tensions with Sheridan.
“His movie seems to be a great priority to him, and he wants to shift focus,” Sheridan told THR. “I sure hope [the movie is] worth it — and that it’s a good one.”
Times staff writer Emily St. Martin contributed to this report.
Source: LA Times