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Twin Peaks v. Northern Exposure: It's Time for Breastaurant Wars

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By Tanya Roth, Esq. on December 07, 2010 12:56 PM

Legally Weird loves a crazy trademark suit. So if you fear a bad pun, head for the hills. (See, we did it already.) 

This amusing federal lawsuit concerns two restaurants, one very old gimmick and waitresses that provide what the restaurants refer to as "scenic views." Texas-based Twin Peaks restaurant is suing Arkansas-based Northern Exposure for trademark infringement and unfair competition. It seems Twin Peaks thinks they have cornered the market on the juvenile double entendre that keeps 'em coming back for more. Sorry, Hooters.

According to the suit, Twin Peaks' protected trademarks include its cleverly designed snow capped mountain logo with the slogan: EATS · DRINKS · SCENIC VIEWS, reports the Dallas Observer. Further, the restaurant wants to protect the trade dress of its log cabin decorated establishment. The trade dress includes rugged lumberjacks with a side order of cleavage with the uniform of the servers.

Twin Peaks restaurant claims that the owner of Northern Exposure is infringing on the trademarked logo and slogan with its promise of "GREAT STEAKS, COLD DRINKS & FREE SCENIC VIEWS." 

And this is no mere coincidence, claims plaintiff Twin Peaks. Northern Exposure owner, Kevin Laughlin, got his own peek at the inner workings of the original restaurant and was offered assistance after he approached the Peaks about a franchise opportunity. Twin Peaks claims they even suggested moving the restaurant from the proposed family-friendly Branson, Missouri, to the party-friendly college town of Fayetteville, Arkansas.

It was at this point that Northern Ex owner Laughlin allegedly took all the advice and assistance (even suggestions for a re-model were supposedly provided) and decided to go climb his own mountains.

In its most basic form, the essence of any trademark lawsuit is whether the marks will cause confusion in consumers about the origin of the goods or services provided. Courts look at many factors such as whether the consumers for each mark make up a similar group, whether the goods and services provided are similar and the fame and status of the original mark. A short list seems to indicate an early freeze for Northern Exposure, to wit: similar decor (check), similar theme (check), similar slogan (check), similar services (check), similar clients (big check) similar staff uniforms (double check).

However, Northern Exposure has not yet responded to the suit, so before we race to judgment, let us hear all the facts. You never know what big guns they could yet use to change the outcome of this breastarant war.

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