Chubby Vs. Fat: The Pointless Noodle Trademark War
from the hungry-hungry-lawyers dept
Nothing breeds pettiness like trademark law. For some reason, the intellectual property law with perhaps the best intentions too often devolves into the most silly and unneeded exchanges over the similarities of common words and the desire to cease the shared use of common images. Case in point is the battle between Chubby Noodle and Fat Noodle, two San Francisco noodle places that are too busy sniping with each other to make the best use of their time doing, well, basically anything else with it.
Chubby Noodle has filed a trademark suit against Fat Noodle, the forthcoming Chinese restaurant from Saison’s Joshua Skenes and partner Adam Fleischman. Fat Noodle is expected to open in SoMa later this year, and is regarded as one of the city’s most anticipated 2015 openings. The popular Chubby Noodle, which currently has two locations (North Beach, est. 2011, and the Marina, est. 2014), is claiming that Fat Noodle’s chosen name is “confusingly similar” and will make customers believe that the two separate noodle-loving companies are related.
The suit also notes that both restaurants’ logos “incorporate a stylized bowl with noodles in the bowl,” among other complaints, like unfair competition and trafficking in a domain name confusingly similar to a trademark. The lawsuit even includes a memorable line: “The word FAT is a synonym of the word CHUBBY in Plaintiff’s mark. And the only additional word in both marks — NOODLE — is identical.”
If we’re really going to open the door to using trademark to block synonyms of “chubby”, how am I ever going to open up my restaurant: Boner Noodle? Joking aside, this is dumb. Like, really dumb. The two restaurants are no more confusingly similar than the myriad of other Asian noodle restaurants all over the place. Add to that the fact that Fat Noodle has come back and demonstrated that they had come up with the concept for their restaurant in 2008, trademarked the name in 2012, and failed to hear a word from Chubby Noodle’s lawyers for months, suggests the Fat Noodle lawyers might need to get their heads straight.
Even the images in question aren’t similar beyond the very basic concepts.
So we have two very different renderings of noodles inside a bowl. Other than those basics, basically everything is different. Add to it that the two names of the not-confusingly-similar companies are right there on display and I’m having trouble seeing why the lawyers are necessary here at all?