Pierogi Fest Trademark Battle Heats Up
San Diego – A pierogi is a delicious savory dumpling part of Polish heritage. It’s also the center of a trademark dispute between a Chamber of Commerce and Hometown committee separated by 700 miles in Pennsylvania.
The pierogi takes center stage in the names of two Polish cultural festivals complete with parades, vendors, games, and other activities. There’s the Pierogi Fest in Whiting, Pennsylvania and the Edwardsville Pierogi Festival in Edwardsville, Pennsylvania. The Pierogi Fest in Whiting alleges that it began use of the trademark in 1994. Each year, the festival brings in almost 300,000 people. They argue the Edwardsville Pierogi Festival is engaging in trademark infringement.
The Edwardsville Pierogi Festival, which began in 2014, brings in less than 5,000 people to its small town. With a population of only 4,7000 it’s the only county in the United States where the most common ancestry is Polish.
The Whiting Chamber of Commerce sent two cease and desist letters stating its intention to take legal action if necessary. The first, sent on May 13, 2015, claims the services offered at the Edwardsville festival are in direct competition with their own festival. The Whiting Chamber of Commerce believes there is likelihood for customer confusion. The letter requested that Edwardsville cease use of all trademark similar to Pierogi Fest.
The second letter, sent in June 2017, repeated those trademark infringement claims and stated that Edwardsville’s sponsors could also be liable for trademark infringement. The Chamber indicated that it is open to discussion about trademark licensing, as it currently does with other festivals. The letter said the Chamber would postpone filing a federal complaint in order to give enough time to resolve the issue out of court. This letter was also sent to sponsors of the Edwardsville festival, which Edwardsville claims made the sponsors apprehensive about continued participation.
In response, the Edwardsville Hometown Committee filed a federal complaint. The Committe argued that the Whiting Chamber of Commerce intentionally damaged its relationship with the sponsors. The complaint asks the judge to declare that no trademark infringement occurred, and requests an award of damages and an award of attorney fees.
The Edwardsville Hometown Committee argues that there is no likelihood of confusion between the festivals given the immense size difference and distance between the festivals. The Whiting Chamber of Commerce argues they are simply protecting their pierogi trademark rights.