California Intellectual Property Blog


Billy Goat Chip Loses a round in Billy Goat Tavern Trademark Case

Los Angeles – In December 2017, Chicago’s Billy Goat Tavern filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against the St. Louis’ Billy Goat Chip Company related to use of the “Billy Goat” name on products. Billy Goat Tavern, founded in 1934, is a popular hang-out spot that gained some fame after it’s appearance on “Saturday Night Live.” Billy Goat Chip Company recently filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit but it was denied by U.S. District Judge Robert Dow Jr.
The tavern currently sells branded beer and frozen burgers in local grocery stores. According to the lawsuit, Billy Goat Tavern has plans to begin selling potato chips in the near future and claims that the use of the well-established trademark by Billy Goat Chip Company in relation to potato chips will cause consumer confusion.
Billy Goat Chip Company, founded in 2009, began by making and serving chips in its St. Louis based restaurant Billy Goat Restaurant & Bar. After selling the restaurant, co-owner Brian Roth started Billy Goat Chip Co. According to the legal documents, the name is in reference to the Billy Goat Hill area in St. Louis.
The chip company argues that the lawsuit should be dismissed because Billy Goat Tavern has allowed an unreasonable amount of time to pass between when Billy Goat Chip Company began selling chips and when the Tavern finally filed the trademark infringement lawsuit. As stated in the lawsuit: “Billy Goat Chips have been sold since 2014. If Billy Goat potato chips are such a threat, why did the Plaintiff wait so long?” The Billy Goat Tavern combats this by stating they have recently encountered confused customers who come into the Tavern stating they thought Billy Goat Tavern made the chips.
According to the Billy Goat Chip Company’s court filings, its chips are sold in 12 grocery stores in the Chicago area. The chip company also continues to say they were the first to use the “Billy Goat” name with packaged food and beverage products, and the tavern’s trademark is limited to “tavern and restaurant services.” In March 2018, Billy Goat Chip Company filed a counter claim against the Billy Goat Tavern for false advertising and violations of other state laws.


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