What’s in a name? Well, apparently a lot when a clothing brand and one of Atlanta’s oldest hospitals are at odds over that name. Grady Baby Co. & Apparel, Inc., a popular clothing brand that took Atlanta by storm less than five years ago with its “Grady Baby” and “We Full” t-shirts and hoodies is now in a legal battle with Grady Health System, more commonly referred to as Grady Hospital.
“What we do know is that we will not back down,” Amber C. Saunders, Principal at The Saunders Firm and legal counsel for Grady Baby Co. & Apparel, Inc. told The Atlanta Voice about the suit.
Last week Grady Baby Company & Apparel co-owner Terrence Albritton told The Atlanta Voice that he and his partners took all of the proper steps to trademark the name “Grady Baby”. He felt blindsided by the suits.
“We did it the right way, we searched the trademark and took the proper steps to secure it,” Albritton said during a phone interview March 9. “Based on trademark law we can co-exist because we’re in different classes.”
Saunders echoed Albritton’s “blindsided” comment.
“We were initially shocked. After processing, we were more so disappointed,” she said in a statement to The Atlanta Voice. “It was as if surviving the pandemic as a Black-owned business wasn’t enough for us, here we are yet again under attack.”
Now the only Level 1 trauma center in Atlanta following the closure of Atlanta Medical Center by parent company Wellstar Health System, Grady Hospital, a 131-year-old public hospital located downtown and one of the largest hospitals in the state, filed a pair of trademark lawsuits in U.S. District Court Monday, March 6.
A civil case, the lawsuits are against Grady Baby Apparel LLC and Grady Baby Company and Apparel LLC, and claim trademark infringement for the popular and commonly used phrase “Grady Baby.” The phrase refers to people born at the hospital and has been seen on baby clothing that is often given to parents on their way home with their babies.
Albritton said he doesn’t see how the Grady Baby Co. apparel sold online and at the Grady Baby container store on the Atlanta BeltLine and what the hospital distributes can be seen as similar in any way.
“We understand that the name is part of the city’s culture,” Albritton said of the “Grady Baby” term. “We trademarked it to protect ourselves from a branding standpoint.”
Saunders called Grady Baby Co. & Apparel, Inc. a, “small, family-owned and operated company that promotes pride in Atlanta’s culture and history and will continue to do so.”
Grady Hospital was once only for white Atlantans during the city’s long segregationist history. “We recaptured that name “Grady” and helped make it a badge of honor,” Albritton said.
The company applied for the trademark in 2018 and received it in 2022, according to documents shared with The Atlanta Voice. “It took some time, but we own the trademark,” Albritton said.
It has been reported that Grady Health System sent cease and desist notices to both Grady Baby Apparel LLC and Grady Baby Company and Apparel LLC in December 2022. Albritton acknowledged receipt of the letters.
“It would be great as opposed to fighting over the name that we end up in a partnership,” Albritton.
Saunders added, “We believe in Grady Baby and we believe in the culture of Atlanta. What Grady Health Systems is doing isn’t the Atlanta way.”