Jan. 2, 2020 – Chicago, Ill.-based intellectual property law firm AddyHart P.C. has filed suit in U.S. District Court in Idaho on behalf of Boise-based Triple T Enterprises (“Triple T”) against fast-food company KFC, alleging that KFC has willfully infringed Triple T”s SMOKY MOUNTAIN trademarks.
Triple T owns the Smoky Mountain Pizzeria Grill brand and operates eight restaurants under the name Smoky Mountain Pizzeria Grill in Idaho. Triple T owns a family of SMOKY MOUNTAIN trademarks, and its rights to these trademarks date to the establishment of its first restaurant in 1992.
Triple T alleges that KFC violated the U.S. Lanham Act of 1946 in having sold food products branded with the name SMOKY MOUNTAIN to customers in Idaho. Triple T’s complaint seeks a court order for KFC to stop using the SMOKY MOUNTAIN trademarks and compensation for KFC’s having benefited from infringing Triple T’s property rights and the goodwill of its customers.
KFC partner companies Grubhub and Postmates are named in Triple T’s complaint, for delivering KFC food labelled with Triple T’s brands and logos in Idaho.
“For a generation, Smoky Mountain Pizzeria Grill restaurants have served our many customers in Idaho with great handcrafted pizzas and other fine foods,” says Triple T’s president Dan Todd. “We’re a small company trying to do things right for our customers and under the law, and we’ll defend our family of SMOKY MOUNTAIN trademarks.”
Attorney Robert Hart of AddyHart P.C. notes that KFC willfully infringed Triple T’s SMOKY MOUNTAIN trademarks and Triple T’s brands by failing to conduct a trademark search prior to launching its infringing SMOKY MOUNTAIN chicken products. “Had KFC conducted a trademark search for SMOKY MOUNTAIN, it could have easily found Triple T’s family of SMOKY MOUNTAIN registered brands and KFC could have adopted some other mark for its BBQ chicken products,” says Hart.
“KFC adopted Triple T’s registered brands and logos to market and sell KFC’s own food product, mimicking Triple T’s marks and trading on the goodwill that Smoky Mountain Pizzeria Grill has developed during its 28 years in business in Idaho. KFC has profited from this infringement,” he adds.
Adds Triple T’s Dan Todd, “Our Smoky Mountain Pizzeria Grill restaurants are a valued part of the eight communities across the great state of Idaho. We’ll stack up against anybody in food quality and our service and atmosphere—and we’d win if the playing field is level. KFC willfully tipped the playing field, and its actions are uncompetitive and unfair.”
Trademark law protects a trademark owner’s exclusive right to use a trademark when use of the mark by another would be likely to cause consumer confusion as to the source or origin of goods. The Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1051 et seq., enacted by Congress in 1946, provided a national system of trademark registration and protects the owner of a federally registered mark against the use of similar marks if such use is likely to result in consumer confusion.
The case is Triple T Enterprises v. KFC Corporation et al. 1:2019cv00511 (D. – Idaho). Plaintiff Triple T Enterprises is represented by Robert P. Hart and Meredith M. Addy of AddyHart P.C., and Scott A. Tschirgi of SAT Chartered in Boise.