Food Trucks and Intellectual Property: A Cautionary Tale. Always Conduct a Trademark Search and File Trademark Applications Prior to Starting Your Food Truck Business!!

May 27, 2021

As you’re opening your new food truck, you can often find yourself overwhelmed with work as you file for the proper permits, hire employees, and design your menu. You may be tempted to let something go or place your branding lower on your priority list.

Unfortunately, if you do not prioritize protecting your intellectual property and developing your branding you may end up making costly mistakes that could cause confusion for your customers. This can come back to bite you down the road and get you into legal hot water. In fact, you could end up in water hot enough to brew coffee. That’s what the food truck, Public Coffee Hub, found out when they were presented with a trademark suit in July of 2020.

What Happened?

In 2020, a popular Buffalo, New York coffee shop named Public Espresso filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against a food truck that operated nearby called Public Coffee Hub. For months the two companies failed to come to a legal agreement on what to do, with cease and desist letters sent and alternative brandings rejected.

In July, the owner of Public Espresso filed a lawsuit, citing the fact that the other company was causing confusion in the market as the two companies had similar branding in addition to selling similar products — coffee drinks and baked goods. According to the coffee shop’s attorneys, the confusion has caused the shop to lose business. In the ongoing lawsuit, the shop wants the food truck to stop using the similar branding and pay for lost revenue and legal fees.

What Should You Do Instead?

Public Coffee Hub could have avoided a lot of trouble (and potentially saved a lot of money) by making sure that their branding was distinct, not likely to cause consumer confusion, and filing for their own federal trademark registration. This would have protected their own brand from competitors and allowed them to focus on building their own, unique client base instead of possibly causing confusion in the market.

Keep in mind that when you are starting a business, you will want to look into protecting assets like names, logos, menu designs, and other branding. If you are worried about falling into the same pitfalls nas Public Coffee Hub, a little legal help and being proactive can go a long way.

Garcia-Zamor Can Help

Are you unsure of where to start when it comes to protecting your new business’s intellectual property? Garcia-Zamor’s team of attorneys can use their decades of experience to help you get started on the right foot. Garcia-Zamor can help you protect your intellectual property by helping you file the appropriate documents, defending you against fraudulent claims of infringement, or pursuing litigation if someone abuses your intellectual property.

Obtaining the correct protections can be tricky due to the unique legal space in which food trucks operate — but that doesn’t mean you can’t feel confident about the legality of your business. Contact Garcia-Zamor today to get started! You have the power to stop mistakes before they happen!