The music festival ‘Summerfest’ has begun a lawsuit this week against Red Lobster over a trademark violation. The music festival suggests that Red Lobster’s promotional campaign – “Lobster and Shrimp Summerfest” – confuses consumers and allows Red Lobster to illegally profit from the goodwill associated with the Summerfest name. Summerfest does allow vendors and partners to use the trademark for short periods of time, but this is not the case with Red Lobster, hence the need for litigation.
Summerfest – an annual 11-day lakefront summer music festival – attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors every summer with major musical acts. The current festival is Summerfest’s 50th and began June 28 and will end July 9. Milwaukee World Festival has held the trademark on the Summerfest name since 1972.
The lawsuit states that Red Lobster’s use of Summerfest has “engendered actual confusion, with numerous city officials and business leaders inquiring whether there was an affiliation between Plaintiff and Defendant.” Because the festival has already begun, Milwaukee World Festival claims that it suffered and will continue to suffer “ substantial and irreparable harm, including the ability to control the consumer perception of its goods and services, the loss of goodwill and reputation it has established in the Summerfest mark.”
This is not the first case between Red Lobster and the music festival, though, as last year Milwaukee World Festival attorneys sent Red Lobster a letter detailing that the company’s Lobster and Shrimp Summerfest promotion was in violation of the Summerfest trademark.
However, last year’s lawsuit notes that Red Lobster’s response claimed that there was no infringement, as the seafood chain uses “-fest” in many of its promotions and events, like Lobsterfest (which Red Lobster happens to have a registered trademark for). The two companies exchanged several additional letters. Milwaukee World Festival has repeatedly reached out to Defendant to demand that it cease its infringing activity, but Defendant has not only refused to stop using the Summerfest mark, it has also refused to engage in meaningful discussions in order to come to a resolution of this matter,” the lawsuit states.
Milwaukee World Festival first contacted Red Lobster June 6 demanding the company cease and desist its infringing use of the Summerfest mark, requesting the restaurant chain return to the “Crabfest” name. Once again, Red Lobster replied noting that it was not infringing on the trademark. The Festival company responded again asking that Red Lobster cease using the name.