Press Release March 27, 2017

Darden Restaurants Secures Major Trademark Win

Alston & Bird client Darden Restaurants Inc. won a significant victory when a U.S. judge granted summary judgment on all claims in a trademark infringement and dilution lawsuit alleging the misappropriation of another company’s slogan in a national advertising campaign.

Darden was sued in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida by Phelan Holdings, Inc., owner of the Pinchers Crab Shack chain of restaurants in South Florida, over the use of the phrase “You Can’t Fake Fresh,” claiming that Darden subsidiary RARE Hospitality Management Inc., which operates LongHorn Steakhouse, infringed on the trademark with its “You Can’t Fake Steak.”

In his ruling dismissing the case, Judge James S. Moody, Jr., wrote: “In sum, based on the Court’s analysis …, Phelan has failed to adduce sufficient evidence upon which a reasonable jury could find a likelihood of confusion between Phelan’s and RARE’s marks. Accordingly, RARE is entitled to summary judgment on all of Phelan’s trademark claims, which also entitles RARE to summary judgment on Phelan’s [Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act] claim and Phelan’s claim seeking cancellation of RARE’s federal registration of its ‘You Can’t Fake Steak’ mark.”

Representing RARE Hospitality are Alston & Bird partners Bob Lee, Frank Smith, and Holly Hawkins Saporito, and (Intellectual Property Litigation), and associate Sarah LaFantano (Trademark & Copyright).

The case is Phelan Holdings, Inc. v. Rare Hospitality Management, Inc., case number 8:15-cv-02294, in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.
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