The New Jersey Turnpike Authority has filed a trademark infringement suit against a pizza parlor in the Florida Keys. The turnpike has sued Plantation Key’s Jersey Boardwalk Pizza. This interesting business law matter outside of the Miami area pits a local pizza against a major governmental agency thousands of miles away.
Similar Logos and Trademarks
The New Jersey Turnpike Authority has sued the pizza parlor because the pizza parlor’s name, Jersey Boardwalk Pizza, is similar of course to the Authority’s name in using “Jersey” and the logo for the pizza place is similar to the Authority’s. Both use a circular logo with an image of the state of New Jersey in the middle of the logo. The pizza place has its name along the circular edge of the logo. The Authority uses “Garden State Parkway” on its logo while the pizza place lists its name as “Jersey Boardwalk Pizza – Subs Cheese steaks & Pasta.” Both logos use a green background with yellow text. The pizza place originally was called just “Boardwalk Pizza” but changed its name to add “Jersey.” The pizza place has been open since 2006 and has used a similar logo to its current one during the entire time it has operated.
According to the lawsuit filed by the Authority on July 21, 2014, in New Jersey Federal court, the pizza parlor willfully and blatantly misappropriated the Turnpike Authority’s registered trademark in an effort to free ride on the good will of the Authority and the state of New Jersey. The suit claims that the pizza parlor used the Authority’s good will to attract customers and investors for franchises.
Common Types of Litigation in Business
The Pizza Parlor Refuses to Stop Using the Logo in Florida
The Turnpike Authority claims that the suit is not really about just a pizza parlor in south Florida. The Authority says that is concerned about trademark dilution and confusion among potential franchises in New Jersey that the pizza place plans to open across the East Coast.
The company has refused to change its logo in Florida or on its website after requests from the Authority to stop using it. After that refusal, the Turnpike Authority filed its suit in Federal court.
According to Boardwalk Pizza’s attorney, the law suit is entirely meritless. The attorney has stated that the “proposition is simply ridiculous.” He further argues that there is no possible confusion between the boardwalk pizza parlor, or its franchises, and the state turnpike. Further, the parlor’s attorney notes that many businesses in New Jersey make use of the Garden State Turnpike’s logo and brand without issue. Indeed, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office received a Federal registration for its logo in 2011.
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