Update: Hooters trade dress suit

Hooters of America had sued WingHouse for copying its concept (Nov. 23). While restaurant chains are not permitted to copy the distinctive “trade dress” of competitors (Two Pesos v. Taco Cabana, 505 U.S. 763 (1992)), the point is to avoid confusion, and Hooters’ claim was mostly based on their attempt to prevent anyone else from selling chicken wings with a scantily-clad waitress. Judge Ann Conway “found that ‘no reasonable juror’ could confuse WingHouse girls, who are dressed in all-black shorts and tops, with Hooters girls, who wear orange shorts and white tops” and threw out Hooters’ suit. Because Hooters had previously agreed to settle such intellectual property disputes with WingHouse in 1997, WingHouse was awarded $1.2 million in a breach-of-contract counterclaim. (Michael Sasso, “Hooters’ Look Isn’t Exclusive, Judge Rules”, Tampa Tribune, Dec. 3; Richard Wilner, “Wing Man Bests Hooters”, New York Post, Dec. 4; “Hooters Can’t Stop Restaurant From Copying Waitress Uniforms”, Bloomberg News, Dec. 3).


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