Trademarks for Restaurants: Similarity of Themes, Logos, and Slogans — New York Business Law

“Twin Peaks” Lawsuit Highlights Trademarks for Restaurants and Similarity of Themes, Logos, and Slogans

by Fred Abramson on December 7, 2010 · 0 comments

A restaurant, not unlike Hooters, has filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against an Arkansas-based company which is starting a similar restaurant in Fayetteville, Ark.

Apparently Twin Restaurant which operates the Twin Peaks restaurant in Texas, (which I have never been to… I have only been to Texas for a 2 hour layover) claims that  Grand Tetons LLC infringed on its trademark, logo and the way its employees dress.

In Twin Peaks v. Grand Tetons, LLC d/b/a Northern Exposure, Twin Peaks sued Grand Tetons over its “food with a view of some substantial mountains” theme.  Twin Peaks’ claim that  they helped spot locations and offered an architect to help with remaking the restaurant. Grand Tetons then went ahead and opened the restaurant without Twin Peaks.

Twin Peaks argue that Grand Tetons  “always planned to operate a restaurant that would knock-off both the trademarks and the valuable trade dress belonging to Twin Restaurant.” From the lawsuit:


?Upon information and belief, Mr. Laughlin chose the name Northern Exposure in order to trade on the goodwill of Twin Peaks and to evoke Twin Peaks’ trade dress, which conveys to consumers a specific theme — namely, a lodge in the northern wilderness. Moreover, the name “Northern Exposure” is a double entendre intentionally patterned after the name “Twin Peaks.” Both unmistakably refer to geographical elements on a literal basis while also making figurative reference — via innuendo readily understood by the targeted customers — to the physical attributes of the servers.

Check out the exhibits, which are a bit risque.

The suit claims the similarity of the themes, logos, and slogans will confuse the customers as to the origin of the goods, services and recreational viewing served up nightly. The plaintiff also claims an infringement of trade dress.  As Reuters notes, Trade dress can include distinctive use of color, shapes and even décor that define a product or service, but is not limited to the clothes, or lack thereof, worn by the servers.

From my reading of the complaint (which would be subject to change after viewing all of the evidence), the trade dress argument will probably fail because dressing women in scantily clad attire is not unique. The trademarked logo and slogan may be similar, so they may have something there.

Twin Peaks would have been better protected by having the defendants sign a non-compete, limiting their ability to open a restaurant within the geographic location.

Who do you think will prevail?

The Law Office of Frederic R. Abramson helps companies protect trademarks. If you have a question regarding trademarks, call me at 212-233-0666.

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