/This French Laundry Weed Has to Change Its Name – Robb Report

This French Laundry Weed Has to Change Its Name – Robb Report

Thomas Keller’s Michelin three-starred French Laundry has inspired numerous folks in the culinary industry. It’s influence, though, goes far beyond that—inadvertently and unwelcomed, it seems.

The cannabis company Maven Genetics had a strain called French Laundry until the restaurant sent it a cease-and-desist letter, Forbes reported this week. While the name wasn’t meant to be a nod to Keller’s lauded establishment—it was inspired by the weed’s genetics—it got enough attention that the restaurant eventually heard about it and worked to quash any connection between the two.

“It is with a blend of pride and a touch of regret that Maven announces a significant development regarding one of our most celebrated strains, French Laundry,” the company said in a statement. “As the year draws to a close, we face a challenging twist. Maven has received a cease and desist letter from the renowned Napa restaurant French Laundry, citing trademark infringement issues. Our strain’s name, meant as a playful tribute to its parent genetics, was never intended to infringe on any trademark. However, to avoid potential legal entanglements, we have made the difficult decision to retire the French Laundry name from our product lineup.”

The strain is being renamed to FKAFL, an acronym for “formerly known as French Laundry.” Keller’s group trademarked the restaurant name back in 1998, allowing it to retain control of the branding. (The Thomas Keller Restaurant Group did not respond to Forbes’s request for comment.) While the moniker is being retired by Maven, the company will continue to use the strain to breed even newer creations, which will become available next year.

Surprisingly, this isn’t the first time the French Laundry has run into some cannabis-based controversy. In 2016, the New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells ran a review of Keller’s Per Se in which he compared a mushroom bouillon to bong water. A few years later, the San Francisco Chronicle critic Soleil Ho, during a trip to the French Laundry, was served a soup course in a literal bong—seemingly in reference to Wells’s review.

While Keller seems to have had at least a little sense of humor in that dust-up, the French Laundry worked more swiftly to end any ties to Maven and its weed. For the cannabis company, though, that may still count as a win.

“The normalizing aspect of it, the fact that we’re garnering attention from the culinary world at such a level,” Miguel De Vivo, Maven’s brand director, told Forbes. “For us, it’s surprising that they noticed. Being in the same realm is exciting.”

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