Spicy donair dispute lands former business partners in court

It may not be a secret blend of 11 different herbs and spices but a trademarked recipe for a blend of spices that sets some donairs apart from others needs protection from pretenders, says a Halifax businessman.

Jeffrey Mahoney and former partner Johnny Dibs are in a legal war involving a secret spice recipe for donairs.

Mahoney said he created a unique donair spice involving two core elements that he alleges are a proprietary recipe and a trade secret. He registered the brand logo under the Canadian Trademarks Act.

In a lawsuit filed March 15, Mahoney said he commissioned an artist to design a font for the donair spice product logo and "has always been the sole owner and interest holder in the copyrights to the 'Donair Spice Brand Text.'"

None of the allegations contained in the lawsuit has been proved in court.

Mahoney got an order from Sobeys for the spice on March 2016 and shortly after brought on Dibs as an investor and distributor for his donair spice, selling 33.3 per cent of the business to Dibs for $15,000.

The two men created a Facebook page to promote the donair spice. Both administered the page, which attracted 5,000 followers.

Adil Asim

Mahoney alleges he spent thousands of dollars in his personal fund to promote the Facebook page.

But by December 2016, Sobeys had delisted the product and the Facebook page was then dormant until Feb. 23, 2019.

In his lawsuit, Mahoney said he continued to sell his product outside of the Sobeys stores. Dibs tried unsuccessfully for a year, December 2016 to December 2017, to buy out Mahoney, he alleges.

But during that time, Dibs used his co-administrator status on the men's Facebook page to boot Mahoney as administrator of the page.

On Feb. 23, 2019, Dibs set up a website, www.eastcoastspice.ca, to market donair spice using Mahoney's recipe and trademark, the lawsuit alleges.

'Counterfeit' spice

Mahoney said he contacted Dibs and requested he stop using the Facebook page and website to market the "counterfeit" donair spice.

But Dibs refused and recently announced on Facebook that he is selling the spice at Gateway Meat Market.

Mahoney said he's also served Gateway Meat Market with a cease-and-desist order to no avail.

The lawsuit asks for special damages in the amount of $100,000, judgement for the loss of profits, as well as $100,000 for aggravated, punitive and exemplary damages and $20,000 for statutory damages.

Mahoney also wants an injunction ordering Dibs to stop the manufacture, advertisement and sale of goods bearing Mahoney's trademark.