Menu
Blog Banner Image

The Franchise Memorandum

Pizza Franchisor’s Trade Dress Infringement Claims Fail
Posted in Trademarks

A Michigan federal court recently denied a franchisor’s motion for summary judgment on its trade dress infringement and unfair competition claims. Happy’s Pizza Franchise, LLC v. Papa’s Pizza, Inc., 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10130 (E.D. Mich. Jan. 25, 2013), involved a lawsuit brought by Happy’s Pizza Franchise, LLC, against Papa’s Pizza, Inc. and Phil Almaki, who once was a passive investor in one Happy’s Pizza location. Almaki later sold his interest in the Happy’s Pizza store and opened several pizza restaurants under the mark Papa’s Pizza. Happy’s claimed that the Papa’s Pizza restaurants copied its restaurant design and menu, in violation of the Lanham Act.

On Happy’s motion for summary judgment on its trade dress and unfair competition claims, the court discussed the elements of trade dress infringement, distinctiveness, non-functionality, and customer confusion, and it rejected Happy’s claim that its trade dress was inherently distinctive. Unlike the trade dress elements found to be inherently distinctive in other cases, such as a unique wine display system or a burnt orange and white color scheme with brick walls and a brown tile floor, Happy’s granite countertops and tabletops, ceramic tiles and floors, back-lit pictures of menu items, and stainless steel shelving were found generic by the court and did not create an identifiable trade dress. Similarly, the menu offerings were not original and were labeled generically (e.g., “Perch and Shrimp Combo”). Accordingly, the court denied Happy’s motion for partial summary judgment on its claim of trade dress infringement and unfair competition.

Email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook

The information contained in this post is provided to alert you to legal developments and should not be considered legal advice. It is not intended to and does not create an attorney-client relationship. Specific questions about how this information affects your particular situation should be addressed to one of the individuals listed. No representations or warranties are made with respect to this information, including, without limitation, as to its completeness, timeliness, or accuracy, and Lathrop GPM shall not be liable for any decision made in connection with the information. The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertisements.

About this Publication

The Franchise Memorandum is a collection of postings on summaries of recent legal developments of interest to franchisors brought to you by Lathrop GPM LLP. 

To subscribe to monthly emails for The Franchise Memorandum, please click here

Topics

Archives

2022

2021

2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

Blog Authors