- Published: November 25, 2021
- Updated: June 28, 2022
- Language: English
- Downloads: 10
(Student’s Full Name)
The name of the case is Hog Trough v. Slop Shack.
STATEMENT OF FACTS
Darla Meen is suing Nosy Pooch, a former employee of her restaurant, Hog Trough for using her recipes in his newly opened restaurant, Slop Shack. Ms. Meen, the respondent, claims that the recipes are hers because she ‘ paid’ for them while Mr. Pooch was employed at her restaurant. She is also suing Mr. Pooch for trademark infringement. The respondent claims that the petitioner used a uniform in his new restaurant which is similar to hers. Ms. Meen claims further that Mr. Pooch used a billboard advertisement which is similar to hers to drive away potential customers from her establishment to his. Ms. Meen is suing $16, 000 for loss of potential customers as well as $12, 000 which represents the amount she had paid to use Mr. Pooch’s recipes in her restaurants.
ISSUE OR QUESTION OF LAW
There are several focal legal questions which the abovementioned case presents. Firstly, the following will be determined: is Ms. Meen obligated to keep the 24 recipes created by Nosy Pooch that she claims she paid $500 each for? Secondly, the following legal question will be answered by the Court ruling: Is Ms. Meen entitled by the law to sue for trademark infringements related to her billboard advertisement and restaurant uniform? Thirdly, it shall be determined by the Court is the following: is Mr. Pooch obligated to receive $1000 for each of his 24 recipes instead of $500? Therefore, the legal principles which this case stands for are trademark infringement pertaining to a company’s uniform and logo, and employer-employee agreements via an oral contract.
RULE (STATEMENT OF THE LAW)
The statement of law concerning the Hog Trough v. Slop Shack case rules that Ms. Meen should not be granted the $12, 000 which she claims she used to pay for Mr. Pooch’s recipes while he was employed as a chef at her restaurant because she made no such agreement in her oral contract with Mr. Pooch. However, the statement of law dictates that Ms. Meen should be granted the $16, 000 for loss of customers due to trade dress infringement.
In addition, the Court also rules that Mr. Pooch should not be granted the $24, 000 which he requested to be paid for his 24 recipes which he created while working at Hog Trough because he had agreed to accept $500 for each new recipe, as indicated by the oral contract.
The ruling of the Court concerning oral contractual agreement between Ms. Meen, representing Hog Trough, and Mr. Pooch, representing Slop Shack, is informed by the ruling handed down in the Pennzoil v. Texaco case (1987). Getty was sold to Pennzoil in a handshake deal. A handshake deal is legally binding under New York law. Texaco later on made a higher offer, and, as a result, the company was sold to Texaco instead. Although the case was tried in Texaco, the Court ruled in favor of Pennzoil while applying the New York handshake law. Pennzoil sued Texaco for $11. 1 billion dollars in damages for tortious interference with the oral contract. The Court reduced the amount by $9. 1 billion but it was later increased by interest and penalties. In order for a contract to be enforceable in court, a witness is necessary. The witnesses to the deal were the board of directors of Pennzoil as evidenced by the Memorandum of Agreement and press release.
In the Hog Trough v. Slop Shack case, the witness to the oral agreement made between the two companies mentioned previously was the mobile services provider that allowed Mr. Meen and Mr. Pooch to make the oral contract by phone, as evidenced by the audio recordings and transcript recorded and obtained from the company. The mobile transcript and recording revealed that there was no oral agreement made between Ms. Meen, the owner of Hog Trough and Mr. Pooch, the owner of Slop Shack and former employee of Hog Trough, indicating that any new recipe created by Mr. Pooch that was paid for by her would become automatically hers. Therefore, Mr. Pooch is free to carry his new recipes with him to his new restaurant.
Additionally, it is in light of the audio recordings and transcript provided by the mobile services provider that the Court made the ruling that Mr. Pooch should not be paid $1000 for each of the 24 recipes which he had created while at Hog Trough. The oral agreement as indicated by the transcript and audio recordings revealed that Mr. Pooch had agreed that he would accept $500 for each new recipe after he was told by Ms. Meen that she was unable to pay $1000 for each recipe.
Furthermore, the Court rules that Ms. Meen should be awarded the $16, 000 in damages for trademark infringement. This ruling is informed by the decision made in the Brookfield Communications, Inc. v. West Coast Entertainment Corp. (1999), heard by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Court. The Initial Interest Confusion doctrine was applied by the Court to determine the ruling of this case. The Initial Interest Confusion doctrine allows, under trade law, a finding of infringement when there is a temporary confusion that is resolved before purchase of goods or service is made. The ruling of the Court in the Brookfield Communications, Inc. v. West Coast Entertainment Corp. dictated that West Coast use of the name moviebuff. com (which was the same name used by Brookfield to sell their entertainment-related software), and the use of “ buried codes or metatags” containing “ Movie Buff” or any such terms are likely to cause confusion with trademark owned in Brookfield.
Another case which has informed the ruling of the Court is the Two Pesos, Inc. v. Taco Cabana (1992), heard by the United States Supreme Court, dealt with issues pertaining to trade dress infringement under section 43 (a) of the Lanham Act. The Respondent, Taco Cabana made the claim that Two Pesos infringed the décor and atmosphere of its Mexican restaurants. The original suit was made in a Texas trial court. It was in this court that the decision was held by the jury that Two Pesos had infringed Taco Cabana trade dress. The Petitioners contended that the use of the trade dress was acceptable because the Respondents were unable to demonstrate that the trade dress had acquired secondary meaning although they were able to verify that the mark was non-functional and distinctive. The Court of Appeal then affirmed the jury’s decision and rejected the Petitioner’s arguments. The case was then appealed at the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court affirmed the ruling of the Court of Appeal and indicated that a secondary meaning is unnecessary when the trade dress at issue is inherently distinctive.
Therefore, the Court handed down the ruling in favor of Hog Trough, represented by Ms. Meen, because the petitioner, used aspects of the uniform of Hog Troug restaurant which were inherently distinctive and non-functional. In addition, Slop Shack’s billboard used aspects of Hog Trough’s billboard which caused initial confusion amongst customers before purchase, as it was revealed that after looking at Slop Shack’s interstate billboard and then upon arrival at Slop Shack customers asked if they were at Hog Trough restaurant. This, therefore, verifies that Slop Shack utilized elements from the logo of Hog Trough which were distinctive to the branding of Hog Trough so much so that customers confused the two restaurants after viewing the billboard on the interstate.
Consequently, the Court has ruled in favor of Hog Trough pertaining to trade infringement of dress in the amount of $16, 000. However, it has not awarded Hog Trough for its claim concerning Slop Shack’s use of 24 new recipes which were created by its owner while being an employee of Hog Trough. In addition, the Court has not awarded Slop Shack for its claim concerning the underpayment for the 24 recipes created by its owner, Mr. Pooch.
“ Darla and Nosy Pooch.” 2014. Microsoft Word file.
“ How to Brief a Case: Case Brief Format—IRAC Method.” N. d. PDF file.