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No 'Crab Fries' For You! (And Other Serious Legal Matters)

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By Gabriella Khorasanee, JD on September 06, 2013 3:53 PM

There’s not much in the way of outstanding jurisprudence coming out of the Third Circuit this week, but there are two interesting cases, and one of them comes with fries.

A Case of the Crab Fries®

In the latest rash of Crab Fries® litigation, Chickie's and Pete's (CPC) has sued Dominic, Inc.'s Tony's Restaurant (Dominic) of trademark infringement, reports Courthouse News Service. First we need to make one thing clear: Crab Fries® are not the next "chili cheese fries" or "carne asada fries" -- there is no crab in Crab Fries® -- just crab seasoning. We know, we're disappointed too. (If law practice is not working out for you, we're betting you can make a killing on fries with actual crab on them -- just don't call them Crab Fries®).

But we digress.

Chickie's and Pete's have used the Crab Fries® mark since 1978 and has spent millions in marketing. Back in 2000, CPC's predecessor in interest sued Dominic for trademark infringement for the use of the words "crab fries" to market their seasoned french fries. The parties settled, and Dominic agreed not to sue "crab" and "crab fries."

Perhaps forgetting about the settlement, Dominic started using an image of a crab next to the word "fries." CPC filed federal and state trademark infringement claims, state unfair competition and trademark dilution claims and unjust enrichment. CPC prevailed on all claims except the unjust enrichment claim.

Death Renders Habeas Corpus Petition Moot

UPI reports that William Keitel was convicted of killing his ex-wife and her fiancé in 1998. In 2011, the District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania denied his habeas corpus petition, and he appealed to the Third Circuit. Argument was set for September 26, 2013, but Mr. Keitel passed away on August 11, 2013. The state of Pennsylvania argued that the case was moot, and Keitel's parents disagreed, wanting to take up the case as "his 'next of kin' [with a] desire 'to continue the appeal to clear their son's name.'"

The Third Circuit rejected Keitel's parents' claim. The court found that habeas corpus claims are sought with one type of relief: release from custody. Since Keitel was no longer in custody, they found his habeas corpus claim moot. The court noted that all other circuits that have addressed this issue -- the Fifth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, and 11th Circuits -- all agree.

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