Arthur R. Lehman, L.L.C.

KFC sues New York businessman over famous slogan

Perhaps one of the world's most famous advertising slogans is the three word phrase used by Kentucky Fried Chicken to promote its fast food products: "finger lickin' good." Now, the chain has filed a petition with the United States Patent and Trademark Office to block a New York state businessman from using phrases that are similar to its trademarked phrases but which appear have nothing to do with fried chicken or any other kind of food product.

The business owner, who is headquartered in Pittsford, received permission from the Patent Office in late 2016 to use two phrases, "Finger Lakin' Good" and "Finger Laking Good" to promote his real estate, farm and brewery enterprises. According to the Pittsford owner, he chose the phrases as a reference to the nearby Finger Lakes, a region dominated by long, narrow lakes that were so named by 19th century mapmakers. The business owner claims that he is not infringing on KFC's product or name because his businesses have nothing to do with a fast food chain or fried chicken. Also, the logos used by the Pittsford businesses bear no resemblance to KFC's logos.

In its petition, KFC claims that the Pittsford businessman adopted the trademarks for the sole purpose of taking advantage of the goodwill that is tied to KFC's worldwide advertising and marketing campaigns. KFC has alleged that "Consumers are likely to believe erroneously that the goods and services offered . . . are authorized, endorsed, sponsored or licensed by KFC." KFC has asked the Patent Office to rescind the trademarks and order the payment of $4,400 in attorneys' fees.

Large corporations such as KFC can be very aggressive in protecting their trademarks and other intellectual property from suspected infringement. Anyone who becomes the target of such an attack may wish to consider consulting an experienced business lawyer. A knowledgeable attorney can provide a helpful analysis of the facts and law that may determine the outcome of the case, and a helpful estimate of the chances of prevailing.

Source: Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, "KFC goes after Pittsford man for 'Finger Lakin' Good' slogan," Todd Clausen, April 14, 2017

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