IP Lawyers Playing Chicken with Local Restauranteur?
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Intellectual property law fascinates me. The ambiguity and subjectivity involved in determining whether or not a trademark can be protected, or if it infringes on an existing mark, can make brand-naming projects painfully frustrating.
If a client’s legal counsel is particularly conservative, it’s nearly impossible to get any name approved unless it is a “synthetic” word. Yet oftentimes less conservative counsel blesses names that seem to push the boundaries a bit. But for this IP law layman, the opposition of FB Food’s registration application for Delia’s Chicken Sausage Stand by Switzerland-based Nature’s Ideal seems cut and dry.
Delia Champion, the founder of Atlanta’s beloved Flying Biscuit Cafe chain, recently applied to register Delia’s Chicken Sausage Stand with the USPTO for her new concept. Molinos IP, owner of the Nature’s Ideal trademark, is opposing the application, claiming it’s “likely to cause confusion, mistake, or deception among consumers.”
Really? Is an approximate anagram (DELIA'S and IDEAL) really likely to cause confusion in the marketplace between a local chicken sausage stand and an international consumer packaged goods company that primarily sells edible oils?
Legal experts and local retail pundits agree the opposition seems absurd. It makes one wonder if Nature’s Ideal really believes it has a leg to stand on, or if it’s just playing chicken with a local entrepreneur hoping she’ll back down.
I hope she doesn’t. And I also hope Delia’s Chicken Sausage opens soon. If her former venture or her business partner’s The Porter gastropub are any indication, Southerners will flock to the stand. The free publicity the attorneys for Nature’s Ideal are giving Delia probably won’t hurt, either. Maybe it will help take the sting out of paying legal fees to fight a seemingly frivolous claim.