Zaxby’s Files Trademark Infringement Lawsuit Over Chicken Logo

Georgia-based chicken restaurant franchise Zaxby’s uses a familiar logo. The image shows a red silhouetted chicken inside of a yellow circle. The restaurant has now filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against Louisville’s Joella’s Hot Chicken over claims that it uses a similar logo.

The Trademark Infringement Lawsuit

The trademark infringement lawsuit concerns Joella’s use of a white silhouetted chicken inside a red circle. Both the shades of red and the design of the chicken are noticeably different. Nonetheless, Zaxby’s claims the Joella’s logo is “confusingly similar” to its own.

Zaxby’s argues that the use of similar logos would confuse customers. Added to this is the fact that the businesses are in the same (restaurant) industry and therefore sell similar goods. Plus, the two restaurants operate in geographically proximate locations.

Last October, a cease-and-desist demand was sent to Joella’s. But the company did not back down, and the present lawsuit followed.

Joella’s has released a statement defending its use of its logo and expressing amazement over the lawsuit. “[We] are just as surprised as everyone else when looking at these two logos side-by-side,” the company said.

A trademark is a word, name, symbol, or some combination used to distinguish goods from those made by others. Companies that have built a particular product or brand use them so consumers can readily identify them in the market. Infringement suits occur when another person or company, without the trademark holder’s consent:

  • Uses any reproduction, counterfeit, imitation, or copy of a registered mark
  • In commerce
  • In connection with the sale, offering for sale, distribution, or advertising of any goods or services
  • Where such use is likely to cause confusion or to deceive

The plaintiff’s argument in a trademark infringement lawsuit is that the defendant’s actions are likely to cause confusion. Here, Zaxby’s is contending that Joella’s logo does just that. But Zaxby’s must also show that its logo is distinctive.

In deciding distinctiveness, trademarks are evaluated on a scale from arbitrary to generic. Arbitrary trademarks are essentially random logos with no natural connection to their products. Apple’s logo – since apples have no logical link to computers – is a great example of an arbitrary trademark. At the other end of the spectrum are generic trademarks. These do not acquire distinctiveness and cannot be considered enforceable trademarks.

The Zaxby’s case will be interesting for determining how similar a logo must be to infringe on a trademark. Some of the factors that courts use to evaluate the likelihood of confusion are:

  • Strength of the trademark owner’s mark
  • Degree of similarity between the trademark owner’s mark and the allegedly infringing mark
  • Evidence of actual consumer confusion
  • Marketing channels used
  • Type of goods or services involved and the degree of care likely to be exercised by purchasers of defendant’s product
  • The alleged infringer’s intent in selecting the mark
  • The likelihood of expansion of the product lines

If you are the owner of a trademark and have concerns about infringement, we want to hear from you. At Eddington & Worley, we fight to defend our clients’ intellectual property rights. We understand the hard work it takes to craft a unique brand, and to secure it with a trademark. And we know what it takes to protect it.

We Can Help You With Your Intellectual Property Needs

Don’t wait to take action if you believe an individual or company is stepping on your intellectual property rights. Our firm can discuss your case with you and advise you of your legal rights and options. We will take the appropriate action to stop infringements and compensate you for your losses. Give us a call today and find out what Eddington & Worley can do for you.

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