How many times have we written about trademark disputes over common words? Let’s do it one more time for the last post of 2016.
This time it’s about the word “succotash” and thanks to Techdirt for writing about the trademark dispute surrounding it.
For those of you who don’t know what succotash is, it’s a vegetable dish usually consisting of lima beans and corn. Sometimes it also includes peppers, or tomatoes, or perhaps even okra. The name derives from the Native American Narragansett language’s “sohquttahhash” which means “broken corn kernels.”
But many people have never eaten succotash — they know the word from Warner Bros.’ cartoon character Sylvester the Cat, whose catchphrase is “Sufferin’ succotash!”
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get to the trademark issue.
Knead Hospitality + Design, LLC filed a trademark for succotash in March 2015 in International Class 43 covering bar, catering, and restaurant services. Recently, Knead emailed a cease-and-desist to a restaurant in Kansas City, Missouri, that has used the name Succotash for 15 years. The restaurant’s owner, Beth Barden, says she never registered her restaurant’s name as a trademark since she didn’t think that a common food dish could be trademarked. Sound familiar?
Upon receiving the cease-and-desist, Barden said: "All of a sudden, your name isn't yours anymore. It's a little terrifying because clearly they have more money than I have, more opportunity to fight this thing than I do." Despite this, Barden has hired an attorney to fight Knead Hospitality + Design.
Happy New Year, T+B readers! Enjoy some vintage Sylvester the Cat: