Viacom, Inc. has filed a lawsuit against IJR Capital Investments in Houston, Texas for planning to operate a restaurant called “The Krusty Krab.” According to the complaint, IJR has been promoting the restaurant on social media and has filed an “intent to use” the mark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Viacom claims that it has capitalized on the popularity of the Krusty Krab over the years by licensing for manufacture and sale toys such as the Krusty Krab playset, costumes, t-shirts books and video games. The complaint claims (and I am quoting):
“The Krusty Krab is owned by Eugene H. Krabs, a prominent and recurring character in the SpongeBob universe. SpongeBob SquarePants works at the Krusty Krab as a fry cook, but he also performs a myriad of other duties, and once stated that his official title is Vice Assistant General Manager in charge of certain things. The Krusty Krab is the scene of many comical exchanges between SpongeBob and his co-worker, Squidward Tentacles. SpongeBob loves his job and considers Squidward a close friend; Squidward hates his job and does not like SpongeBob.”
“Krusty Krab’s chief competitor is the Chum Bucket, which is owned by Sheldon J. Plankton, Mr. Krabs worst enemy. The Krusty Krab maintains an advantage over the Chum Bucket based upon the popularity of its Krabby Patty burger.”
The lawsuit alleges unfair competition, trademark infringement, and dilution. Viacom claims that the identical appearance and sound of “Krusty Krab” would lead to a likelihood of confusion by the consuming public. Viacom alleges that its extensive use of “Krusty Krab” through a variety of products and the term and its widely-held association with the “well-known fictional fast food restaurant” in Spongebob Squarepants enables Viacom to essentially have first dibs at operating a “Krusty Krab” themed restaurant. Interestingly, Viacom has not filed a trademark registration for “Krusty Krab” Is this another diabolical attempt by Plankton to steal the secret formula? Will we soon be able to taste a “krabby patty”. Stay tuned for more posts as I follow this case.