With some cases, you just shake your head. In this case, a
restaurant purveyor thought it would be okay to open a restaurant
by the name of the "Krusty Krab." For those of you who
have no reason to have been watching cartoons for the past 20
years, this is the name of the restaurant in which SpongeBob SquarePants works, flipping crabby
patties as a fry cook. SpongeBob Squarepants is a Nickelodeon
cartoon character who has been very popular with young children
(and certain college students). Again, for those of you who do not
know what I am talking about, click here to listen to the show's catchy
In Viacom International Inc. v. IJR Capital
Investments, LLC, Judge Gary Miller (S.D. Tex) granted
summary judgment to Viacom (the owner of Nickelodeon) for state
trademark infringement over IJR's intended use of the name
KRUSTY KRAB for its restaurant. On its state trademark infringement
claim, there were a few factors working against Viacom: it had not
registered KRUSTY KRAB as a trademark, and it does not use the name
in an actual restaurant. Nevertheless, the Court found that Viacom
had a valid trademark in KRUSTY KRAB by virtue of acquiring
secondary meaning. While the Court found secondary meaning, it did
not define the class of goods over which KRUSTY CRAB established
such secondary meaning.
Turning to likelihood of confusion, the Court found compelling
evidence of likelihood of confusion between the fictional KRUSTY
KRAB and IJR's KRUSTY KRAB. The Court found significant overlap
between the two entities in target geographic areas and customer
base. The Court also accepted a survey that concluded that 30% of
typical restaurant patron respondents exercising ordinary caution
identify Viacom as the entity that would have operated, approved or
sponsored a restaurant bearing that name. The Court also noted that
IJR likely knew of the SpongeBob SquarePants connection and looked
to capitalize on that association, which also weighed in
The Court denied Viacom summary judgment on its federal and
state dilution claims because they were not ripe (IJR had not yet
used the mark in commerce). The Court also denied summary judgment
on Viacom's other Lanham Act claims, including unfair
competition, because they were not briefed. On these issues, the
Court displayed its knowledge of popular culture, noting that
SpongeBob would likely respond, "Aw, tartar sauce!" to
The next time someone thinks about crossing SpongeBob
SquarePants, we caution them with this little ditty. Go ahead and
Who works somewhere KRUSTY way under the sea?
Unregistered, fictional and so KRABBY!
If trademark infringement be something you wish
He'll take you to court and you'll flop like a
To view Foley Hoag's Trademark and Copyright Law
Blog please click
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.
Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.
Join NECEC— the premier voice of businesses building a world-class clean energy hub in the Northeast—and Foley Hoag’s Energy and Cleantech practice for a not-to-be-missed discussion with offshore wind developers, leading public officials, investors and experts at the cutting edge of the Northeast’s emerging offshore wind market.
After decades of speculation about offshore wind’s future in the United States, the industry that has long powered grids in Europe has finally arrived in the Northeast. In the last year America’s first offshore wind project--off the coast of Rhode Island--started spinning and delivering power to the grid, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed into law a bill authorizing the procurement of 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind, and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo committed to 2,400 megawatts of offshore wind off the coast of New York by 2030. Meanwhile, major utilities have announced agreements with developers to purchase energy generated from the projects planned for the eastern seaboard.
The decision by a federal jury in Dallas, Texas, to award $500 million to the plaintiffs in a case involving VR technology – despite the jury's conclusion that the defendants had not misappropriated...
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).