I guess they don’t have good enough lawyers under the sea. Viacom was victorious in its lawsuit against a Texas company for using the name of the fictional fast food restaurant from SpongeBob SquarePants, “Krusty Krab,” in a real-life restaurant without permission.
SpongeBob SquarePants premiered on Nickelodeon way back in the last century, 1999 to be exact. The exploits of the sponge and his friends have made their way onto the big screen in several movies and the show has been extremely successful, and profitable, for Viacom. In the SpongeBob Universe, the “Krusty Krab” is the name of the fast food restaurant chain that has appeared in 249 episodes of the show, the movie, and will be featured in the upcoming Broadway play, The SpongeBob Musical. Viacom has licensed for sale “Krusty Krab” playsets, cake decorations, aquarium ornaments, and a myriad of other products. Viacom claims that it is using the KRUSTY KRAB as a trademark. While Viacom does not own a registered mark for KRUSTY KRAB, it does have one for the KRABBY PATTIES that covers gummy candy.
IJR Capital Investments, LLC was operating a restaurant called “The Krusty Krab” in Texas. In December 2014, IJR applied to register THE KRUSTY KRAB mark in association with restaurant services. When the mark was published for opposition, Viacom sent IJR a cease and desist letter over the unauthorized use of the KRUSTY KRAB trademark.
In a defiant response, IJR’s attorney claimed that the restaurant had no clue that Viacom was using the mark and there is no chance of consumer confusion. IJR declined to cease use of the mark and wanted to “consider the matter closed”…so much for that attempt. Viacom wasn’t crazy about that response and filed a lawsuit in Texas against the restaurant for trademark infringement.
In granted a motion for summary judgment the court held that consumers are likely to be confused to think that the restaurant is owned by or affiliated with the SpongeBob Universe and Viacom. IJR claimed that “Krusty Krab” was not eligible for trademark protection. But the court cited such other things as “Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.” and “Kryptonite” and “Daily Planet” from the Superman franchise as trademarkable elements from a larger story.
These two parties seem to dislike each other as much as Eugene H. Krabs and Sheldon J. Plankton and this battle will continue as it heads towards the damages phase.