Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Helping the legal profession's recovery

I’ll probably be served with court papers at any moment for using “restaurant” in the name of this space. One of the big chains is sure to claim it holds exclusive rights to the term, at least on this side of the sun.

As our sister publication reported this morning, Subway’s lawyers are squaring off with the Casey’s c-store chain over use of the term “footlong.” Casey’s wants to use it as a generic descriptor of its own sandwiches, but Subway says it holds exclusive rights to the term whenever it’s applied to heros, as per a trademark request currently before the government.

But that federal case is hardly the only dispute underway over the use of restaurant—sorry, counselors, I meant “foodservice”—names, slogans and terms.

Tavern on the Green, New York’s bankrupt landmark, isn’t in business any longer. But that hasn’t stopped the bankruptcy trustee from harrumphing at a Marriott in Indianapolis that wantes to call its lounge JW’s Tavern on the Plaza. Like Casey’s, the would-be operators of the Plaza are suing the trustees because they feel “Tavern on the [blank]” won’t be confused with a now-gone place in New York City. Global warming will no doubt get a considerable boost of hot lawyer breath before the matter is settled.

Then there’s the battle that drew page-one coverage yesterday from the New York Times, just under its reportage from Egypt and Tunisia, a few column inches away from a report on the inability of many states to pay pensioners’ health benefits. A chain that admittedly ripped off the Kentucky Fried Chicken name during the 1960s is battling with other operations that are using names too close to its moniker, Kennedy Fried Chicken.

Somewhere, a lawyer is weeping with delight.

There are also ongoing disputes over variations of El Pollo Loco, Jason’s Deli (specifically, Chef Jason’s Deli & Pastries), and the Batman logo, which DC Comics alleged was being used by a barbecue place that named itself BATS, after its owners (Beau and Travis).

But I have more pressing matters, like what to call my dogs after a certain transportation company learns that I identify them as greyhounds.

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