ATLANTA — If you're from Atlanta, you might have taken your first breaths inside the maternity ward of Grady Memorial Hospital.
It's a badge of honor — something to boast about. The baby lungs of future music stars and influential public figures filled with Grady air before you were born.
But who owns the phrase "Grady Baby"? The hospital argues that it does, and it's now taking two metro Atlanta apparel companies to federal court over the trademark.
In a March 6 civil lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court, Grady Health System alleges that Gradybaby Apparel LLC and Grady Baby Company and Apparel LLC's use of the phrase was "unauthorized."
The hospital alleges that its "widespread and continuous use" gives it "common law rights" over the phrase. The hospital opened its doors in 1892 and is the exclusive owner of the "Grady Health System" trademark.
Grady Health System sent cease and desist notices to both companies on Dec. 7 requesting they stop using the term "Grady Baby." Both refused, according to the lawsuit.
"For many years, well prior to any use by any Defendant, Grady Memorial Hospital has used the term 'Grady Baby' as a trademark on apparel such as onesies and T-shirts as well as other items provided to patients in reference to children born at Grady Memorial Hospital," the hospital alleges in its lawsuit.
In an interview with 11Alive, Gradybaby Apparel founder Perlander Williams said he was not aware that Grady Hospital had filed a lawsuit.
"That's crazy," said Williams, who was born at Grady Memorial. "Nobody is never going to mistake me for a hospital, and nobody is ever going to mistake them for a t-shirt shop. What is the problem?"
This is not the first recent legal fight over the use of "Grady Baby." The two apparel companies are fighting each other in a separate federal lawsuit.
Williams' Gradybaby Apparel filed a civil lawsuit against Terrence Albritton of Grady Baby Company in June 2022 over the phrase. Attempts to contact Albritton before publication were unsuccessful.
In an amended complaint filed in December, Albritton is accused of "intentional and willful infringement of Williams’ service marks and trademarks."
Williams alleges that he used the "Grady Baby" term for his business beginning in 2010, establishing common law ownership of the trademark.
Williams told 11Alive he reached an agreement with Albritton, allowing Albritton to register the "Grady Baby" trademark with the United States Patent and Trade Office. The patent office granted Albritton a trademark registration number in March 2022. However, the agreement between the two companies later fell apartment, Williams told 11Alive.
In its lawsuit, Grady Memorial Hospital is demanding a jury trial and that both apparel companies stop using "Grady Baby" on its products.