In the long-running snowball fight between rival makers of snowball equipment, SnoWizard scored a huge win on Thursday when its competitor, Southern Snow, was ordered to pay $102,000 in federal court because it infringed a SnoWizard patent. Mark Waller, who covered the trial for the New Orleans Times-Picayune, noted that Thursday’s judgment came as a result of a bitter, years-long conflict between the manufacturers.
SnoWizard has been at the center of the battle for control of the New Orleans snowball market for years, and the controversial company has been pelted with plenty of accusations. Waller said that in 2009 four companies had even joined an attempt to get the feds to prosecute SnoWizard under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act — originally intended to target the Mafia and other organized crime organizations.
In 2009, Gwen Filosa, also reporting for The Times Picayune, described a lawsuit filed by Parasol Flavors against SnoWizard, accusing them of stealing trademarked names. At the time, she wondered aloud if the case had “a snowball’s chance of being taken seriously by the courts.”
It did. Four years later, on Wednesday, Waller reported that Judge Nannette Jolivette Brown had signed a consent decree which stated that the following names were too generic to trademark and any snowball maker could use them — “hurricane, buttercream, buttered popcorn, dill pickle, Georgia peach, king cake, praline, cookie dough, cake batter, mudslide, orchid cream vanilla and tiramisu.”
Yes, they were calling each other crooks and operators of an organized crime organization because they used the name “hurricane” in New Orleans. We’re lucky that popular New Orleans tourist spot Pat O’Brien’s didn’t get embroiled in the mess. The French Quarter bar is often held to be the creator of the famous Hurricane cocktail.
If you’re wondering why the battle was so bitter, wonder no more. In the greater New Orleans area, where genuine snow is virtually unknown, tasty snowballs like “mudslide” and “cake batter” are traditional summer treats.
Tyeesha Dixon reported in the Baltimore Sun that start-up costs for starting your own snowball stand usually run around $10,000 to $15,000. A commercial snowball shaving machine alone can cost up to $4,000 — and soft, fluffy shaved ice is critical to the making of a genuine New Orleans style snowball.
On their website, the 75-year-old SnoWizard is currently offering a “super” start-up package for a tad over $10,000, although there’s a “budget” package for around $2,800.
Any way you shave the ice, there’s a lot of money for manufacturers in snowballs. So is the snowball fight finally over with the $102,000 judgment? Waller says no. A separate case involving several of the contentious snowball makers is still making its way through the courts.