According to its claim, the packaging of Dove brand chocolate and peanut butter candy “is too similar to that used for such products in Hershey’s Reese’s line,” and relies overmuch on the colors brown, orange and yellow, presumably nonobvious choices for a chocolate-peanut confection. [Matt Miller, Harrisburg Patriot-News]
Trade undress, cont’d: two restaurant companies by the names of Twin Peaks and Grand Tetons (doing business as “Northern Exposure”) are now sparring in court over whether the latter improperly copied the former’s Hooters-meets-wilderness-lodge eatery concept [Siouxsie Law, Dallas Observer] In 2004, Hooters itself sued a rival establishment named WingHouse which it claimed had improperly copied distinctive elements such as its servers’ provocative manner of dressing.
For those who care (Mike Riggs, Reason “Hit and Run”, Jul. 23, cybersquatting suit filed by the celebrity gossip blogger; The Smoking Gun, Jul. 15, Popehat, Jul. 16, suit filed against Hilton by woman whose nasty email he printed, causing her to lose her job since it was traceable to her work account).
First the giant retail chain sent a nastygram to an improvisational troupe that staged an unannounced performance at one of its stores and then sold parody T-shirts that imitated the retailer’s graphics. Then it sent a nastygram to a blog that had reported on the incident. Then, as p.r. disaster loomed, it apologized for sending the nastygram — the second one, at least, the one to the blogger. (Laughing Squid, Dec. 12)(via Turkewitz).
Hooters, dissatisfied with a district court ruling (Dec. 7, 2004) that it could not use the mechanism of trademark law to preclude competing restaurants from having tank-top-clad waitresses serve mediocre chicken wings, has appealed, and the Eleventh Circuit will hear argument on January 13; the Fulton Daily County Report has all the detail you could ever want.
Hooters of America had sued WingHouse for copying its concept (Nov. 23). While restaurant chains are not permitted to copy the distinctive “trade dress” of competitors (Two Pesos v. Taco Cabana, 505 U.S. 763 (1992)), the point is to avoid confusion, and Hooters’ claim was mostly based on their attempt to prevent anyone else from selling chicken wings with a scantily-clad waitress. Judge Ann Conway “found that ‘no reasonable juror’ could confuse WingHouse girls, who are dressed in all-black shorts and tops, with Hooters girls, who wear orange shorts and white tops” and threw out Hooters’ suit. Because Hooters had previously agreed to settle such intellectual property disputes with WingHouse in 1997, WingHouse was awarded $1.2 million in a breach-of-contract counterclaim. (Michael Sasso, “Hooters’ Look Isn’t Exclusive, Judge Rules”, Tampa Tribune, Dec. 3; Richard Wilner, “Wing Man Bests Hooters”, New York Post, Dec. 4; “Hooters Can’t Stop Restaurant From Copying Waitress Uniforms”, Bloomberg News, Dec. 3).
Trial began last week in a lawsuit filed by Hooters of America against a rival “breastaurant” operator named WingHouse, which also relies on curvy waitresses to sell sports-bar food and drink to a clientele of young men. Hooters charges infringement of “trade dress” (undress?) and other sins, while WingHouse contends that the older chain is using the legal system to suppress competition. (Henry Pierson Curtis, “Hooters suit aims to clip upstart competitor’s wings”, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Nov. 18; Kris Hundley, “Hooters defends wings-and-winks turf”, St. Petersburg Times, Nov. 18; “Hooters competitor in court, accused of stealing ideas”, AP/Daytona Beach News-Journal, Nov. 19)(via Reason “Hit and Run”). For more Hooters litigation, see Mar. 27, 2001; Mar. 24-26, 2000.