Posts Tagged ‘Sandwich Law’

Sandwich Law Roundup: Jimmy John’s Takes Bite Out of Halsted St. Deli; Steptoe and Johnson Smokes Out Burger Joint Rogue States

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2621/4051719297_b3444fe2cc.jpgSandwich chain Jimmy John’s is suing a Chicago rival, Halsted St. Deli, for naming two of its sandwiches the “Turkey Tom” and the “Hunt Club.” Jimmy John’s reportedly holds federal trademark registrations for the names “Turkey Tom” and “Hunter’s Club.” George Maglares, a student at the Univerity of Chicago, wrote a brief blog post on the suit for Prof. Randal Picker’s class “The Legal Infrastructure of Business” (law school classes have their own blogs now, or at least at Chicago they do) and there’s more on the suit from NBC Chicago.

Maglares calls the suit frivolous and the situation “rather absurd” and I agree. It’s difficult to imagine consumer confusion, even initial interest confusion, arising from the use of these names. Even a moron in a hurry wouldn’t expect to be served an actual Jimmy John’s sandwich at a sandwich shop that isn’t Jimmy John’s.

Jimmy John’s has a better argument that Halsted St.’s use amounts to dilution, but a finding of dilution first requires a finding that a mark is famous, and I don’t think either “Turkey Tom” or “Hunter’s Club” is a famous mark. Of course, I base that conclusion on the fact that I personally have never heard of either sandwich. Courts may disagree.

In other news, the Washington, DC office of law firm Steptoe and Johnson has been fuming about unpleasant emissions from Rogue States, a burger joint on the ground floor of its building. Rogue States’s kitchen exhaust exits the building at the second floor, near Steptoe’s air intake, and has allegedly caused health problems for Steptoe employees. Rogue States installed an exhaust scrubber to clean its emissions, but to no avail: Steptoe filed suit against Rogue States, claiming that the emissions amounted to a private nuisance. After a three-day trial (read coverage from the Washington City Paper here), the D.C. Superior Court ruled in favor of Steptoe, and the grills at Rogue States have gone cold. Given that routing its exhaust to the roof of the building, Steptoe’s favored remedy, would cost $150,000 and is opposed by the building’s landlord, it’s unlikely that Rogue States will reopen in that location.

To learn more about sandwich law issues, read the following:

Our post “This Week in Junk Food Trademark Fiascos,” which analyzed trademark suits by Subway and Chik-fil-A.

A 2006 Wall Street Journal blog post about an attempt by McDonalds to obtain patents for some of its sandwich-making processes. The Legal Satyricon weighed in as well with an interesting post that uses the McDonalds application as a jumping-off point for a larger explanation of the patent process.

A truly outstanding 1907 article from the New York Times entitled “Coney Grieves Most Over Sandwich Law; Some Old Friends Were Eaten with Drinks Yesterday,” which wittily describes the fallout from a new interpretation of a New York state law known as the Raines law. Passed in 1896, the Raines law restricted Sunday alcohol sales to hotels which served food. Many sleazy bars quickly complied with the letter of the law, becoming “Raines law hotels” by renting out an adjacent room and setting a sandwich or two out for sale. Customers would come and go, but the sandwiches remained on sale, day after day, untouched and hardening. Terrifyingly, a state court then ruled that the “Raines law sandwich” had to be ordered and served “in good faith,” and saloon owners began to demand that patrons attempt to consume the ancient sandwiches before being served their Sunday libations, resulting in general unhappiness and indigestion. (The Raines law is also mentioned in passing in a recent New York Times article about the speakeasy revival.)