What would Del Monte do?

I am a part of a little company which has a brand, meowme, that sells a pet bed and carrier which we call the Sleepypod. We recently received our notice that the our name was ready to go from meowmeTM to meowme®, meaning that our trademark registration has passed all the tests that the USPTO had to offer. But then we get a nice letter from our dear friends at Del Monte, owners of the brand Meow Mix saying that they own anything that starts with Meow under their Meow Mix registration. We never even though of them when we came up with the name. They make pet food, we make pet beds. I understand that they have some legal obligation to defend their trademark but this seems like they are pushing a little too hard. For them it is nothing to have a few of privates in their army of lawyers spend a hour or two writing up a letter, but we don't have a team of lawyers on hand; so we have had to pay a lawyer to respond. Hopefully they will see the error of their ways and not fight us. It could cost us tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars to defend our trademark. This is not an easy thing for a company that is just getting started.

Well I am not happy with any of this and so I am boycotting all Del Monte products...time to clean my kitchen cupboard. Here is the official list of their brands for those who care enough to care:

Del Monte
S & W
College Inn
Gravy Train
Kibbles ‘n Bits
Meow Mix
Nature‘s Recipe
Canine Carry Outs
Jerky Treats
Meaty Bone

2008-03-02 Update:
The legal costs are staggering and we are still negotiating. There is hope that a reasonable arrangement can be agreed to.

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