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Trademark Infringement Case is High Steaks

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The Nashville Post reports that Orlando Florida-based Darden Restaurants, the owner of Red Lobster and Olive Garden, is being sued for trademark infringement by Nashville-based O’Charley’s owner of the Stoney River chain. 

The dispute stems over Darden Restaurant’s new concept for a steakhouse, Rocky River Grillhouse, a lodge type eatery serving grilled steaks and seafood.  O’Charley’s find this concept too similar to its Stoney River Legendary Steaks, which opened last year in Nashville’s West End.

According to the lawsuit, the word ‘rocky’ is synonymous with ‘stoney,’ no to mention the fact that the decor and menu for both establishments is strikingly similar.  The first Rocky River opened in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, last November as a test location.  There are reportedly more on the way.

There have been earlier clashes of restaurant copycatiing, including the dispute between ‘Wendy’s‘ and ‘Judy’s’ and Kentucky Fried Chicken and Minnie Pearl’s Chicken.

There are currently 10 Stoney River restaurants owned by O’Charley’s in Tennessee, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio, and Missouri.  In the complaint, O’Charley’s notes that the Stoney River trademark has been used since 1996 and that Stoney River Legendary Steaks has been registered since 2002.

The lawsuit claims that Darden has basically sought to piggyback on Stoney River with its Rocky River concept, causing consumers and prospective patrons to assume the two are one and the same.

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