Bass Pro Shops Fight Local Business Over Logo - WFLA News Channel 8

Bass Pro Shops Fight Local Business Over Logo

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Kelly Morris, owner of Simple Life Outfitters Kelly Morris, owner of Simple Life Outfitters
VALRICO, FL (WFLA) -

Kelly Morris and his cousin came up with a logo for his Simple Life Outfitters store in Valrico two years ago.  The logo took off, and is on T-shirts and hats that account for a large chunk of his business.

"Everybody that looks at it says it's an awesome logo," Morris said.

The logo has never been a problem, but now mega store Pass Pro Shops is coming to town.

They say Morris' logo looks like theirs, and they want him to stop using it immediately.

Morris says his store is no competition for the mega-store.

"Mo, I don't see how I could be," he said.

Bass Pro plans a 140,000-square-foot store in Brandon, between Interstate 75 and Falkenburg Road.

The wildly popular store sells hunting, fishing and boating equipment. Morris' store is just 1,200 square feet and sells mostly apparel, with just a few of the brands sold at Bass Pro.

"Why are they worried about me, little old me, down here in Valrico?"

Morris says he did everything he could to make sure his logo wouldn't be a problem.

His trademark was approved by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

That process includes a search of other logos nationwide - and no one at the Federal office thought Morris' logo was similar to that of Bass Pro.

Even so, Bass Pro has filed a legal opposition, forcing Morris into a costly battle.   

"It just trickles on down the line, to the bottom of my bank account," Morris said.

In legal papers, Bass Pro says Morris' logo is too similar because it has a jumping bass in a circle.

We reached out to the company for more information. Spokesman Larry Whitely said, "Our logo is our most valuable asset and we fight aggressively to protect it. His logo could reflect negatively on us, if consumers confuse the two."

Morris wants to fight, but wonders how long he can afford the battle.

"It's mine, and I'd like to keep it that way."

This isn't the first local controversy for Bass Pro Shops.

The company had hoped for more than $8 million in an incentive package from Hillsborough County.

The money is supposed to be used to build and improve roads around the new store.

But small business owners say it's unfair to use their tax money to bring in a competitor that would hurt their businesses.

Commissioners are expected to vote on that issue February 6th.

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