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February 12, 2013

Army energy bar lawsuit crumbles

An #Army energy bar dispute left a bad taste in the mouth of a private company, which had hoped to convert the so-called "HooAH! Bar" to commercial use.

In a 48-page opinion, U.S. Court of Federal Claims Judge Nancy Firestone concluded that the U.S. Army's Natick Soldier Research, Development, and Engineering Center had, in fact, breached its contract with the California-based D’Andrea Brothers for commercialization of the military-bred energy bar.

But despite the breach, the judge sided with the government in denying the company's request for some $2 million in allegedly lost revenues.

Sad case all around, though it had its entertaining moments. Court records show, for instance, the dispute between the Army, which claims the "HooAH!" battle cry, and the Marine Corps, which prefers "Oorah!"

"In 2006," Firestone noted, "the name of the military rations bar was changed from simply 'HooAH!' to 'HooAH!/OOH-RAH!' because of objections by the Marine Corps.

The company had an exclusive five-year license to the Army’s HooAH! trademarks for commercial sales of the energy bars, in exchange for royalties. Complications ensued, as when Natick changed the energy bar's name to "First Strike," but the judge reasoned that the private company shouldn't be able to collect (save for attorneys fees) because:

"Although the court has found a breach on the part of the government, plaintiff may not recover damages because, regardless of the government’s actions, it would have lost the value of its investment and would have been unable to recoup its costs in any event. Plaintiff may not use the government’s breach to wipe away bad or naive business decisions, where it alone is responsible for a miscalculated risk concerning its own investment."



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"Suits & Sentences" is a legal affairs blog written by Michael Doyle, a reporter for McClatchy's Washington Bureau. He was a Knight Journalism Fellow at Yale Law School, where he earned a Master of Studies in Law; he also earned a Masters in Government from The Johns Hopkins University with a thesis on the Freedom of Information Act. He teaches journalism as an adjunct instructor at The George Washington University's School of Media and Public Affairs.

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