A Tale of Johnny Rockets and TM Infringement woes

restaurant-1234214Theme based restaurants are popular not only for the ‘theme’ they deal with but also the exemplary visual appeal they bring along with it. For example the Restaurant in the Sky in Belgium, Ninja theme restaurant in New York, New Lucky Restaurant in Ahmedabad, Ithaa, an undersea restaurant in Maldives and one of the most famous theme restaurant chains with a franchise in India i.e. Johnny Rockets apart from others. For those not aware of it, Johnny Rockets is a restaurant chain which is stylised diner bearing resemblance to the 1950’s era and times.

Recently Johnny Rockets has initiated a full throttle trademark infringement battle against a Philadelphia restaurant confusingly titled ‘Johnny Rocks Grill’ at the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania alleging that the latter’s restaurant name closely resembled the former’s famed national chain of more than 200 franchises specializing in all-American food. They also added that they had requested them to change its name but the alleged notices fell on deaf ears.

Johnny Rockets is seeking $75,000 in damages, along with punitive damages and legal fees from Johnny Rocks. This issue brings to the forefront the fact that trademark infringement is quite common everywhere and even industries such as foods and beverages have been actively suing various possible infringers for either appropriating upon their goodwill maliciously or embarking on a business with a confusingly similar trade name or the trademark or the logo or in brazened case scenarios all of them together.

Coming to the theme restaurant in picture, the trademark infringement suit is filed with the intention that any person who visits a restaurant is either attracted by the restaurant; a catchy name, a unique and specific décor, imaginatively named menu items and restaurant name, dishes with perhaps a distinctive appearance and served in a distinctive manner, and a well-known chef. Owing to the fact that these ‘elements’ of a restaurant signify how much effort and intellectual creativity is put to test proves the fact that a restaurant business falls within the protection of trademark laws. A restaurant trade dress, menu items, restaurant services, chef’s name as a trademark, are ways by way of which trademark law is used as a shield to guard and protect a restaurant’s claim to fame of being ‘the first’ to invent a well-known food item, food with unique shapes or packaging, and of course “signature dishes.”

Only, time will tell as to who is going to prevail this trademark infringement battle.