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Trademark Case Watch: Florida Pizzeria Prevails Over State of New Jersey

Trademark6

On May 17th, 2018, the New Jersey Law Journal reported on a relatively unusual trademark dispute involving a small Florida pizza chain and the state of New Jersey. The case provides an instructive example of the key issues that must be reviewed in any trademark infringement dispute.

In New Jersey Turnpike Authority. Jersey Boardwalk Franchising Co., Inc., the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board found that although there are similarities between the logo of Jersey Boardwalk (located in Homestead, Tavernier, and Key Largo) and the Garden State Parkway, the businesses are fundamentally unrelated. Therefore, the chance for confusion in the mind of reasonable consumers is very low. As such, New Jersey’s effort to block the small pizza chain effort to register its trademark was dismissed.

The Similarity of the Marks

One of the key elements in any trademark dispute is the similarity between the two marks that are in question. In this case, the U.S. Trademark Trial and Appeal Board found considerable similarities between the official logo of the official Garden State Parkway and the logo used by Jersey Boardwalk Pizza.

Notably, the color scheme was similar, as well as the shape of the logo and style of the text. However, there are some important differences between the two logos. For example, none of the actual words are the same. Still, citing the strong visual resemblance, the Trial and Appeal Board concluded that the impressions left by these two marks are fairly similar.

Relatedness of Goods and Services  

It is important to remember that a strong similarity between two logos is not, by itself, sufficient to prove trademark infringement. There are other necessary legal elements that must also be satisfied.  For trademark infringement to have occurred, the parties in question must offer goods or services that are related to the degree that a reasonable consumer might mistakenly think that the two entities are actually related to each other.

On the surface level, there is a clearly a significant difference in target market of a publicly owned and operated highway in the Northeast Corridor (the Garden State Parkway) and a relatively small pizza chain operating in South Florida (Jersey Boardwalk Pizza). The Garden State Parkway attempted to connect its highway operations to the pizza chain by noting its potential ability to provide restaurant services to motorists. However, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board did not find that argument compelling. New Jersey lost its claim on the grounds that these two entities are simply not sufficiently related to give rise to confusion in the minds of consumers.

Speak to a Florida Trademark Lawyer Today

At Pike & Lustig, LLP, our trademark litigation attorneys are proud to be strong advocates of our clients. If you are involved in a trademark dispute, please contact our law firm today for a free case evaluation. With a main office in West Palm Beach, and a secondary office in Miami, we serve companies all over South Florida, including in Miami Beach, Hialeah, Fort Lauderdale, and Jupiter.

Resources:

images.law.com/contrib/content/uploads/documents/292/turnpike.pdf

law.com/njlawjournal/2018/05/16/patent-office-rejects-njs-challenge-to-pizzeria-logo-likened-to-parkway-signs/?slreturn=20180431164828

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