Two Georgia Sausage Companies Battle Over Trademarked Logos That Aren't Particularly Similar

from the sausage-party dept

We see a lot of dumb trademark lawsuits here at Techdirt, but the most frustrating of them is always those that assert similarities in trade dress when it's plainly obvious that no such similarities exist. Even when afforded the greatest leeway for interpretation, there are times when one company will complain about the branding of another company that simply leaves you scratching your head.

A lawsuit filed by Stripling's General Store against Carroll's Sausage & Country Store is an exmaple of this.

Stripling’s General Store is suing Carroll’s Sausage & Country Store because it was using a “confusingly similar mark” to advertise its goods, according to the complaint filed last month in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia.

The general store also alleges unfair competition, false designation of origin and injury to its reputation.

Look, I could stretch this post out a bit with detailed language of what's involved, but the fact is that Stripling is complaining that its logo and that of Carroll's are too similar so as to mislead the public as to the origin of each's products. Worth noting here is that Stripling fired off multiple C&Ds without receiving a response and that Carroll's has taken no action to change its branding. Also notable is that Stripling is asking for all profits Carroll's received while using this trade dress.

And, now, for the branding in quesiton.

It should be obvious just how different these logos are and, more importantly, how little confusion they are likely to create. After all, the only real similarity that is somewhat unique is the use of an image of a pig on each. The counter to that as an argument for uniqueness and confusion is: these are sausage companies. It would be odd if they didn't use images of pigs in their logos. Beyond that, those images are different, as are the color schemes, the verbage, and the names of each source of goods on both logos, which are prominently displayed in both cases. To suggest anyone is going to be confused by any of this is more than a bit crazy.

But, with the explosion in permission culture in American business, we've now reached a point where sausage companies are fighting over the right to use the image of a pig in their logos. Great job, everyone!

Filed Under: georgia, logos, pigs, sausage, trademark
Companies: carroll's sausage and country store, stripling's general store


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  1. icon
    Gary (profile), 30 Jul 2018 @ 7:31pm

    Obvious

    It should be obvious that the first person to trademark a pig will have exclusive rights to pig images. There is no room in the market for two pigs.
    At least the lawyers will eat well.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    pixelation, 30 Jul 2018 @ 7:50pm

    Typical IP battle

    It's a sausage fight.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Christenson, 30 Jul 2018 @ 8:09pm

    what about that circular outline???

    THAT is what set the lawyers off, probably, LOL.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Jul 2018 @ 8:20pm

    out_of_the_blue's heroes, ladies and gentlemen!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. icon
    rorybaust (profile), 30 Jul 2018 @ 8:22pm

    the pigs need to lawyer up

    I think the pigs should sue both theses companies for using its likeness for profit but I suppose if lindsay lohan could not win that battle what hope for a real pig

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Jul 2018 @ 8:26pm

    I never sausage a thing!!!!

    'nuff said!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Jul 2018 @ 8:27pm

    I now have trademarked the name of my new business A.E.I.O.U.

    Anybody using any of these letters in commerce now is pwned by me.

    Apple, I suggest you give me half of your cash on had if you wish to avoid my iWraith.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Jul 2018 @ 9:33pm

    Re: Obvious

    at least the lawyers will eat well.

    It'd be a shame to waste all that bacon, y'know?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 30 Jul 2018 @ 10:06pm

    'We at Company X firmly believe that our customers are idiots.'

    This is why you keep your lawyers on a tight leash, so they avoiding wasting your money and making you look like legal thugs that are either blind and/or idiots.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Jul 2018 @ 10:27pm

    Trademark lawsuits are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. icon
    Tanner Andrews (profile), 30 Jul 2018 @ 11:52pm

    A Pig is Pretty Much Required in a Sausage Label

    That is how you designate the real product, as opposed to beef or chicken sausage surrogate. Customers are expecting a picture of a pig.

    The same holds for barbecue joints. The picture of the pig, often in an apron, is pretty standard in the business. People driving in unfamiliar territory recognize that image as signifying not a particular vendor but a particular class of vendor. You can write the name of the joint in the apron, or on the pig's cap, to make a logo. It's still a fairly weak mark, erase the name and you are back to identifying the type of goods.

    Stripling's loses on that basis, so we do not even get to the question of why the two pigs do not look alike.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. icon
    Nathan F (profile), 31 Jul 2018 @ 12:55am

    Are they seriously asking for 30 years worth of profits?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    David, 31 Jul 2018 @ 12:56am

    Re: what about that circular outline???

    Just wait until the lawyers figure out that a circle is just an obscenely rounded rectangle.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    David, 31 Jul 2018 @ 1:04am

    Re: A Pig is Pretty Much Required in a Sausage Label

    That is how you designate the real product, as opposed to beef or chicken sausage surrogate. Customers are expecting a picture of a pig.

    Not "designate" but "insinuate". I was sort of annoyed to figure out that the dominant component of most "calf liver sausage" by weight is pig (liver sausage is great for camouflaging medication to cats but cats should not eat pork).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    David, 31 Jul 2018 @ 1:12am

    Re:

    "What brand of sausage should I buy?" "Oh come on, you know the one. Stripling's, the one that has a pig on its label. Don't ask me ever again."

    At the store: "Which was it again? Ah, the one with the pig."

    30 years later: "I took out the garbage. Why are there Carrol's sausage peels?"

    30 years worth of profit in damage. Perfectly reasonable. Clearly malicious intent to deceive, so this should actually be tripled.

    Coming up next: suing the police station because of polluting the pig trade dress.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Jul 2018 @ 1:17am

    Pigs in Logos

    "It would be odd if they didn't use images of pigs in their logos."

    That would almost sound like a punchline, if it weren't so actually true in case...and potentially metaphorically true in so many others, e.g., MPAA, RIAA, Comcast, et al.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Jul 2018 @ 1:35am

    Rush courageously, your lawyer is waiting.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    David, 31 Jul 2018 @ 2:19am

    Re: Pigs in Logos

    Or NASA. You know, because of pigs in space.

    Particularly since they made space circular or something after Einstein told them to just stop worrying and put the center anywhere. I'm fuzzy about the details but that's Heisenberg and Einstein did not like quantum theory even though he got his Nobel for it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    David, 31 Jul 2018 @ 3:18am

    Re: Obvious

    It should be obvious that the first person to trademark a pig will have exclusive rights to pig images. There is no room in the market for two pigs.

    There is a German lemonade company called "Fritz Cola" and they did not have the money for trademark lawyers and research. Their logo is a picture of the two founders since they considered it unlikely for that to clash with preexisting logos.

    But then the facial details of those two pigs are also different and apparently that did not help.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. icon
    Bamboo Harvester (profile), 31 Jul 2018 @ 3:58am

    This just isn't Kosher.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. icon
    tweetiepooh (profile), 31 Jul 2018 @ 4:56am

    Re: A Pig is Pretty Much Required in a Sausage Label

    Why? You can make cartridges from other meats too. A good traditional boerwors is a pure beef sos from South Africa sold as a spiral and cooked whole on the barbie (braai). Some butchers here in the UK adulterate with pork to make it lighter colour and texture.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Jul 2018 @ 7:25am

    Re:

    I like sausages, so I guess the metaphor doesn't work forever.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Jul 2018 @ 7:28am

    Re:

    I will trademark QWERTY together. Any use of it in commerce owes me cash.
    All prior art are lies meant to deceive the court and will fall under RICOLIBELSLANDER because you are using international commerce to reduce my claims.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24. icon
    JoeCool (profile), 31 Jul 2018 @ 8:08am

    Re: Re: Pigs in Logos

    The Nobel Prize committee does not like giving an award for the same thing two years running, so sometimes they give an award to a scientist for something else they did rather than what earned them the award in order to avoid back-to-back awards in the same area. Einstein was a prime example of that.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25. icon
    hij (profile), 31 Jul 2018 @ 9:14am

    Re: Re: Obvious

    Insisting that all pigs look alike is porcinist.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26. icon
    Bergman (profile), 31 Jul 2018 @ 10:20am

    Re: Obvious

    If they're arguing that because they're a sausage-making company that has been using a pig logo longer than their competitor, their competitor should lose the right to the pig logo, I have bad news for them:

    https://nettlessausage.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Nettles-Logo-Web-2.png

    http://www.humanesociety.org/assets/images/logos_odd_sizes/williams_sausage_logo_260x91.jpg

    https://www.hillmeat.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/hills-premium-meats-logo.png

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27. icon
    Bergman (profile), 1 Aug 2018 @ 12:15am

    Re: the pigs need to lawyer up

    Unfortunately, just as monkeys cannot own copyrights, pigs cannot sign photographic releases.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28. identicon
    Wendy Cockcroft, 1 Aug 2018 @ 5:29am

    Re:

    But they've got to bring home the bacon somehow!


    I'll see myself out.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29. icon
    Tanner Andrews (profile), 3 Aug 2018 @ 4:54am

    Re: Re: A Pig is Pretty Much Required in a Sausage Label

    Why? You can make cartridges from other meats too

    Because if you put other types of meat in there, it is not good sausage. It is just a poor imitation, fit mostly to serve to inmates in Yankee prisons.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30. When the only similarities between the two brands in question are so common that they no longer function to distinguish products and services of one brand from identical or similar products and services of everyone else, your trademark infringement argument is doomed. Unless the totality of similarities leads one to believe that it was a deliberate attempt to take a free ride on the reputation of your brand. Here we have more than just a pig. We have a general shape of a circle We have an inner circle. We have the word "store". We have a pig. We have the word "EST." followed by four digits representing a year. We have a name that ends with a possessive "'S". Taking the literal elements out of the equation, the real question is, does Stripling's logo have anything to it that can ever be enforced? And if yes, what are they?

    Andrei Mincov

    Founder and CEO of Trademark Factory® / https://trademarkfactory.com, the only firm in the world that offers trademarking services with a predictable, guaranteed result, for a predictable, guaranteed budget. We can help you register your trademarks with a free comprehensive trademark search, for a single all-inclusive flat fee, with a 100% money-back guarantee.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31. icon
    وان و جکوزی (profile), 21 Feb 2019 @ 12:26pm

    A Pig is Pretty Much Required in a Sausage Label

    That is how you designate the real product, as opposed to beef or chicken sausage surrogate. Customers are expecting a picture of a pig.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32. icon
    Dickeys BBQ Franchise (profile), 8 May 2019 @ 9:38am

    Re: A Pig is Pretty Much Required in a Sausage Label

    I'd say it would be like trying to establish that two barbecue companies couldn't both use flames in their respective logos.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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