Yep, Goats Are Intellectual Property.

Post date: Sep 20, 2010 3:48:08 PM

Apparently there is a restaurant in Wisconsin that has become famous due to the fact that they have goats that graze on their grass covered roof. Their food is good, too, I guess. Al Johnson's Swedish Restaurant is now making news due to them enforcing their registered trade dress (a type of trademark) against other restaurants allegedly copying their idea.

WSJ: Goats On the Roof

Although I get what Al Johnson's is claiming, I think the big weakness here is that the trade dress isn't very "strong." Similar to the IHOP analysis last week, Al Johnson's argument should take a hit due to the fact that there is only one restaurant and essentially no one outside of Wisconsin has ever heard of it. This observation would also cut against Al Johnson's due to the decreased chance of confusion on the part of consumers. The big trump card here, however, is that Al Johnson's apparently registered the trademark back in 1995 (although I couldn't find the registration on the USPTO website...but I did find that the accused infringer -- Danny Benson -- has registered "Goats On The Roof" as a service mark, which is very interesting). Once you have a registered trademark, you can usually just send cease & desist letters to anyone that comes close to infringing and scare them to stop, which is -- for better or for worse -- the way the IP industry operates.