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HOOTERS Restaurant Chain Loses Appeal In Trademark Infringement Lawsuit Against Winghouse of Florida

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A U.S. District Court Judge’s ruling against restaurant chain, HOOTERS, has been affirmed in a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.


Florida District Court Judge Anne C. Conway in Orlando, Florida, ruled that the “Hooters Girl” persona is “primarily functional” and therefore not entitled to trademark protection. HI Ltd. Partnership v. Winghouse of Florida, Inc. No. 6:03-cv-116 (M.D. Fla. 2004).


Trademark attorneys for Hooters claimed that the Florida based sports bar WingHouse copied too many elements from Hooters restaurant and violated the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.


Relying on the classic elements of trademark infringement, Hooter’s argued that Winghouse copied so many features unique to Hooters that customers would be confused into thinking the two companies were affiliated.


Hooters Girls’ outfits consist of a white shirt and orange shorts while Winghouse Girls’ outfits consist of black tank tops and black running shorts. Florida trademark attorney, Don Conwell, argued for Winghouse against a liklihood of confusion finding between the two uniforms.


The trial court judge for the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida reasoned that the Hooters Girls’ “predominant function is to provide vicarious sexual recreation, to titillate, entice, and arouse male customers’ fantasies.


The Hooters chain began in Clearwater, Florida, and boasts over 425 locations in 46 states. Winghouse opened in Largo, Florida and has 19 locations…all of them within Florida.


The complete 11th Circuit decision affirming the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida can be found here.

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