Court Rules Against Trademark Claim Over Food Flavor

by T+B Blog Team on October 24, 2014

A Texas judge ruled this week that the flavor of Russo’s New York Pizzeria’s pizza was not entitled to trademark protection. Russo’s had sued another restaurant, Gina’s Italian Kitchen, for trademark infringement, claiming it had copied the taste of its food, using its recipes, suppliers, and allegedly hacked documents.

Judge Gregg Costa dismissed the trademark and trade dress claims, calling them “half-baked.” Russo’s New York Pizzeria had claimed that its “specially sourced branded ingredients and innovative preparation and preservation techniques contribute to the distinctive flavor” of the food it serves. Judge Costa’s ruling said, “it is unlikely that flavors can ever be inherently distinctive, because they do not ‘automatically’ suggest a product’s source.” He went on write: “Functional product features are not protectable.”

Unlike flavor, Judge Costa wrote that the plating of food could be protectable under trade dress. “When plating is either inherently distinctive or has acquired a secondary meaning, when it serves no functional purpose, and when there is a likelihood of consumer confusion, it may be possible to prove an infringement claim.”

In case you’re not hungry after reading that, there was more pizza-related trademark news this week. The owner of New York City’s Grimaldi’s pizzeria filed suit against the owners of Patsy Grimaldi’s restaurant in Shanghai, China, which happens to feature signage similar to its Brooklyn location, along with a similar menu. Even a listing in Timeout Shanghai mentions the commonalities between the two restaurants: “Despite appearances, this restaurant is not affiliated with the New York pizzeria of the same name.”

What do you think about the court’s ruling on the trademark protection of flavors?

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Automaker Nissan’s effort to trademark the name of its concept car, the “Eau Rouge,” has caused some consternation on the auto racing circuit. “Eau Rouge” happens to be the name of one of Formula One racing’s most famous turns at Belgium’s Spa-Francorchamps circuit.

Nissan’s U.S. trademark application in International Class 12 (automobiles) will be published for opposition on November 4 and media reports say that the Belgian racetrack will contest it. Pierre-Alain Thibaut, director of the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, told Bloomberg: “It’s like they want to steal the brand from the circuit … We consider it exactly the opposite of fair play.” Spa-Francorchamps owns the European Union trademark for the Eau Rouge name.

The Eau Rouge (or Red Water) is an Infiniti Q50 prototype that Nissan is still testing before it decides whether to actually put the car into production. Automobile Magazine, which called the car “quite the Frankenstein,” quoted Nissan’s vice president of vehicle design and development as saying, “There are still many questions about the business case.” Infiniti’s President Johan de Nysschen told Motor Trend that the price of the car could reach $100,000.

Take a listen to what a 560bhp engine sounds like:

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Millennials Want Brands to Be Their Friends

October 20, 2014

Tweet Way back in 2010, we wrote about a study that showed that Millennials didn’t feel particularly strongly about … anything. At that time, they didn’t have much love or hate for any particular brands. Apparently that’s changed because a new study shows they’re now feeling strong connections to brands, especially those that listen to them […]

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Don Henley Sues Clothing Retailer Over Use Of Name and Song Title

October 17, 2014

Tweet The music world’s Don Henley, a founding member of the Eagles, is suing Duluth Trading Company, a Wisconsin-based clothing company for trademark infringement and false advertising over its use of the phrase: “Don a Henley and Take it easy.” Take a look at the ad: This case seems to easily lend itself to a […]

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Lady Godiva at the Center of Trademark Dispute

October 14, 2014

Tweet Most of you are probably familiar with the story of Lady Godiva. The wife of an 11th century English nobleman, she opposed the steep taxes her husband imposed on the townspeople. Her husband, Lord Leofric, said he would rescind the taxes if Lady Godiva would ride her horse naked through the streets of Coventry. […]

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“Kinesio” Case Highlights Use of Root Words in Trademarks

October 13, 2014

Tweet American company Kinesio Holding Corporation and Kinesio IP, LLC, known as Kinesio, is threatening legal action against a Canadian kinesiologist whose business is called Kinesio Sport Lab (KSL). Kinesiology is “the study of the principles of mechanics and anatomy in relation to human movement,” according to the Merriam-Webster.com. And, Jeff Zahavich, director of KSL, […]

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Branding: The “Why No iWatch?” Discussion Continues

October 10, 2014

Tweet The conversation around “Why no iWatch?” continues—was it a trademark issue or a strategic branding choice? One factor cited in the debate is Swatch’s ownership of several trademarks for iSwatch, yet Apple had already registered iWatch trademarks in Japan, Mexico, Turkey, and several other countries. Apple began using the “I” in 1998 when it […]

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New Study Shows Brands Impact Religious Commitment

October 8, 2014

Tweet Your worship of Porsches or Hermès scarves may indicate that you’re less likely to be spending much time in an actual house of worship. Apparently the more importance you place on brand names, the less likely it is you’ll have a strong commitment to religion. Or, as Pacific Standard put it: “It seems if […]

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Unexpected Impact of iPhone 6 Launch on Fashion Brands

October 6, 2014

Tweet Now that all of the Fashion Weeks – New York, London, Milan, and Paris – are over, what’s the latest news from fashion brands? Well, it’s a collision of fashion and technology … and it’s happening in the pockets of jeans, resulting in some unhappy new iPhone 6 buyers. When Apple launched its new […]

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NgTLD Update: World Trademark Review Looks At Top New TLDs

October 3, 2014

Tweet Highlights: Our readers will be particularly interested to learn that the World Trademark Review (WTR) has revealed the results of its recent research into brand-hijacking habits in new gTLDs. The results show that within the top two generic TLDs, .XYZ and .CLUB, over half of the 70 brand names WTR looked at (taken from […]

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