By Russ Lay on August 8, 2012
A trademark infringement lawsuit filed by Philadelphia-based CPC Properties Inc. against a local restaurant, Crabby Fries, has been settled and the case dismissed, according to federal court documents.
Details are confidential, and neither the owner of Crabby Fries nor the eatery’s lawyer would comment on what, if any, settlement terms had been reached.
When asked what name the restaurant will operate under, the owner said “Crabby Fries.”
CPC Properties operates a chain of restaurants in Pennsylvania and neighboring states under the brand Chickie’s and Pete’s.
The chain has trademarked a menu item, “Crab Fries,” which are French fries with seafood spice.
Unlike patents, trademarks are not vetted as thoroughly when filed, which means ultimate determination of their validity is often settled in court.
CPC first notified Crabby Fries by mail in early 2011 and then proceeded to file a lawsuit in federal court later in the year when the local eatery resisted.
Trademark holders are advised to vigorously defend their brand by sending out legal notices and filing suits against any business they feel are infringing on their registration. Often, these notices and suits are broad-based and include words and phrases that appear to be only vaguely related to the trademark.
In Philadelphia media interviews, Chickie’s and Pete’s owner, Pete Ciarrocchi, not only laid claim to the phrase “Crab Fries” and numerous iterations, he also asserted in Phillymag.com that “he’s the inventor of the crab fry.”
CPC has taken action against numerous restaurants in and around Philadelphia, Maryland and North Carolina. Its actions have most often focused on menu items rather than restaurant names, as was the case locally.
CPC’s action against Crabby Fries caught the attention of Philadelphia newspapers, Hampton Roads television news reporters and spawned a “Save Crabby Fries” Facebook page, which has over 400 members, as well as a blog “Free the Crab Fries.”