Posted: Jul 09, 2017
Are you a fan of Red Lobster? If so, you might have already partaken in their "Summerfest" promotion, a celebration of inexpensive lobster and shrimp that is sure to raise your cholesterol and iodine levels. But they might be in some legal hot water soon, as a Wisconsin Music Festival, also called Summerfest, is suing them for trademark infringement.
We first saw this on Consumerist, and went looking for the court filings. The case, Milwaukee World Festival Inc v. Red Lobster Management, was filed in federal district court in Wisconsin on June 30. In addition to their complaint (embedded below), the music festival has asked the court to grant it a preliminary injunction requiring Red Lobster to stop using the "Summerfest" name and destroy all products associated with the name.
The basic outlines of the lawsuit are simple: Milwaukee World Festival alleges that they've had the Summerfest trademark registered since 1972, and Red Lobster is infringing on it. Unfortunately for Red Lobster, this isn't the first time the festival has had a problem with this—according to the lawsuit, the festival raised this issue with Red Lobster last year, and after a heated exchange of nasty lawyer letters (some of which are attached to the complaint as exhibits), Red Lobster rebranded the promotion as "Crabfest." Why did Red Lobster come back and do it again? Who knows.
Presumably, Red Lobster's defense will be the same as it was in those letters: Summerfest is a pretty widely used term, and there's arguably no real risk of confusion between a huge plate of crab legs and a large music festival. On the other hand, they look a little bit silly sticking to their use of this term when they've already been put on notice that it's a problem.
We'll see how it plays out in court.
By Anthony Todd
July 6, 2017
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