Food FlavourÂs cannot be trademarked
A federal judge has ruled that no matter how good our baked ziti tastes, the flavour cannot be protected under trademark laws.
This follows after New York Pizzeria restaurant chain- Russo sued a rival chain- GinaÂs Italian Kitchen for alleged taste infringement. Russo claimed they had trademark rights in the taste of their food, they alleged that GinaÂs Italian Kitchen had infringed those trademark rights by what Judge Gregg Costa describes as Âthe flavour of its Italian food and the way n which it plates its baked ziti and chicken and eggplant parmesan dishesÂ
RussoÂs have lost the lawsuit after judge Costa ruled that the flavour and presentation of the disputed Italian dishes were not subject to trademark infringement laws and further argued that the Âflavour of food undoubtedly affects its quality, and is therefore a functional element of the product.
Judge Costa also dismissed the claims that RussoÂs plating style was protected by trademark laws and stated that RussoÂs had failed to prove what was Âdistinctive and non-functionalÂ about the way it plated its eggplant parmesan.
Trademark rights can be acquired for words, slogans etc. that are capable of distinguishing the goods/services of one business from those of another. In certain limited circumstances a products features may be capable of being a trademark (independently of the productÂs brands) and thus may also be protected under trademark laws. For this to happen consumers must view the features of the product as signals of the source of the product. But, however a feature can never be protected by trademark laws when the feature in question is functional or necessary for a technical function. This means that if it is essential to the use or purpose of t product an also if it affects the cost or quality o the product. Where the product in question is food, flavour will almost always be functional. The court explained this point in more detail.
Âthe main attribute of food is its flavour, especially restaurant food for which customers re paying a premium beyond what it would take to simply satisfy their basic hunger needsÂ NYPI does not allege that its supposedly unique flavouring is merely an identifier given that the favour of pasta and pizza has a functional purpose.
Written by Fozia Cheychi- A work exprience student