SAN ANGELO, TX — Federal Judge Sam Cummings has recused himself from the ongoing lawsuit involving “Yellowstone” streaming series creator Taylor Sheridan and the San Angelo-based coffee company Free Rein Coffee, previously known as Long Horn Coffee. The reasons behind Judge Cummings' unexpected withdrawal from the case remain undisclosed. Federal Judge James Wesley Hendrix, familiar to the San Angelo community, will now preside over the case. Hendrix notably oversaw the trial of former San Angelo Police Chief Timothy Vasquez, resulting in a 15.5-year prison sentence. Last month, the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Vasquez’s appeal.
In a related development, the court has informed the U.S. Patents Office about the lawsuit. The notification emphasized that Sheridan did not file for a patent for his competing coffee brand, “Bosque Ranch Craft Coffee,” until November 16, 2023, merely five days before suing the San Angelo coffee start-up.
Cole Hauser, known for his role as Rip Wheeler in the original “Yellowstone” series, is a partner in Free Rein Coffee Company.
The lawsuit, initiated by Sheridan’s Bosque Ranch Headquarters, accuses Free Rein Coffee Company and its parent, Code of the West LLC, of trademark infringement. Filed on November 21, 2023, in San Angelo, the lawsuit alleges unfair competition and false advertising by the defendants.
The complaint contends that the defendants employed a brand mark remarkably similar to Bosque Ranch's registered trademark, potentially confusing consumers. Bosque Ranch, linked with Sheridan's popular series "Yellowstone," has utilized the "Bosque Ranch" name and its intertwined "BR" brand mark in various enterprises since 2004, achieving federal registrations in 2020. See images of the trademarks here.
Sheridan introduced the Bosque Ranch Craft Coffee brand in June 2023. Free Rein Coffee emerged when Hauser and his partners acquired Long Horn Coffee of San Angelo in 2022. In October 2023, we reported on the rebranding from Long Horn to Free Rein. Additionally, Cowgirl Magazine featured an announcement about the Free Rein brand in September 2023. Read more about Cole Hauser's new coffee brand here.
Alongside the judge change and the patents office notification, the court is awaiting confirmation from the process server responsible for delivering lawsuit notifications to Hauser and his partners. As of December 8, there has been no recorded appearance by Hauser, his partners, or their legal representation in response to the lawsuit.