With the sun setting early on cool October days, the frozen lemonade season has pretty much tanked. This is a time of year when customers barely trickle in to Deb’s Frozen Lemonade on Brambleton Avenue in Roanoke. It’s the typical fall pattern for the tiny, mom-and-daughter business.
All the rain we had this summer put a damper on profits, too. You could say 2013 has not been a bumper-crop year for Deb’s. But still there is some cause for celebration by owners Joyce and Debra Castelli. They’re now the proud holders of a registered Virginia trademark for their business.
Six months ago, the Castellis had never thought about trademarking the logos for their 36-year-old operation. It’s a single, cinder block stand with three trucks that prowl the Roanoke Valley, hand-dipping the slushy drink the old-fashioned way. At the Brambleton Avenue store they sell hot dogs, potato chips, soft pretzels and cookies, too.
Then in June they heard from Rhode Island-based Del’s Lemonade, an industry giant that sells frozen drinks at dozens of stands in 13 states.
The letter from Del’s high-powered lawyer, Jeffrey Techentin, questioned Deb’s logo — a leafy lemon with “Deb’s” scrawled across it in green cursive type. The letter suggested it infringed on trademarks owned by Del’s, which has been in business since 1948. It hinted Del’s would sue if Deb’s didn’t change its signage and trucks.
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