A Cheesesteak Maker's Beef Against the Trademark Office

Submitted by patentadmin on Fri, 10/12/2012 - 14:22

Sometimes a business owner (or his attorney) has to get creative to show why he deserves to be awarded a certain trademark. In this case, the owner of Campo's Deli in Philadelphia needs to show why the mark it uses for its signature sandwich - "Philadelphia's Cheesesteak" - is different from some very similar existing marks: Philadelphia's Cheesesteak Co., Philadelphia Cheesesteak Co., and The Original Philadelphia Cheesesteak Co. The plaintiff argues that their mark refers to a particular sandwich and not the company itself (as do the other marks). The owners of Campo's Deli need the mark because they have plans to start a franchise.

Legal arguments and fine points aside, we couldn't help but be impressed by the flowery language used in the plaintiffs' complaint, filed on October 4 at the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia by attorney J. Conor Corcoran. It states (in part) that the "Philadelphia's Cheesesteak" mark "is descriptive of the unique and tremendously delicious goods it offers for sale to the famished masses, and is not, by contrast, an indication of the geographic origin of the sandwich, which would otherwise prohibit registration."

The complaint's prose is so vivid that we can't help thinking of Emma Lazarus (though her masses were huddled, not famished). But wait - there's more. If the Campos obtain their desired trademark, "the purchasing public will know that Plaintiff provides a particular kind of Philadelphia Cheesesteak, of such a tremendous quality, such a gustatory delight, and such a propensity for myocardial infarction that it could only be called 'Philadelphia's Cheesesteak' - the very best example of what is otherwise a very common sandwich." (Did the client really approve the use of "myocardial infarction"? Just asking.)

The Campos are requesting declaratory judgment that the "Philadelphia's Cheesesteak" mark is valid and enforceable and that the trademark be registered at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. We're not sure how it will all turn out, but we're suddenly craving a heart-stoppingly tasty sandwich.

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