[This is largely a comment to Alfred’s post below, but it’s long and I wanted to include some links so put it here as a separate post. MC]
Perhaps the lawsuit Alfred discusses below could also be filed under “karma”… Last November, Twin Peaks filed a complaint here in the Northern District of Texas alleging that another restaurant, called Northern Exposure (yes, really) infringed upon its trademarks and trade dress. The complaint alleges that the individual who opened the Northern Exposure restaurant in Fayetteville, Arkansas had been in negotiations with Twin Peaks to open a franchise, and then decided to open his own restaurant with the same trade dress but under a different name. The parent company for Northern Exposure is Grand Tetons (I feel like I want to add a ‘yes, really’ after every sentence).
Alleged infringement included the Twin Peaks mark “EATS – DRINKS – SCENIC VIEWS,” and its trade dress – a mountain wilderness lodge theme, a name chosen to evoke a double entendre (the wilderness and physical attributes of the servers), and a logo that includes “two snow-capped mountains.” Twin Peaks also claimed that Northern Exposure copied its servers’ outfits (uniforms? costumes?), which consist of plaid shirts tied at the center of the bust line and short shorts. Northern Exposure, on the other hand, claimed that women in the snowy wilderness always wear plaid shirts tied at the center of the bust line and short shorts. (Just kidding, as to that last point.)
A clerk at the District Court in Dallas told me that the case was dismissed with prejudice in April upon agreement of both parties. According to Yelp and Urbanspoon reviews, the Northern Exposure restaurant was open as recently as August, so any settlement must not have included the closure of the Northern Exposure restaurant. (My favorite review: “The food is good and the girls are hot. $1 drafts.”)
It is slightly disturbing to me that while there are a few franchises of Twin Peaks in other states, we in Texas can boast a total of twelve locations. Of course, most of the Taco Cabana restaurants are also in Texas. Judge us not by our culinary interests, I say, but by our appreciation of restaurant trade dress.
Alfred mentions the possibility of a dilution claim against Twin Peaks, an issue that certainly extends its relevance to the Twin Peaks v. Northern Exposure controversy. I would like to have been a fly on the attorneys’ wall to hear the debate over whether to include “copying our use of the name of a quirky and popular TV show filmed partly in Snowqualmie, WA in the early 1990s” in the complaint.
Perhaps this is an issue that only trademark geeks and David Lynch might appreciate?