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Wolfgang Puck: Can you trademark 'The Kitchen'? Celebrity chef has brand restaurant at GSP

By Jim Fair, Editor
Published on Friday, March 3, 2017

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The company owned by Wolfgang Puck is suing restaurateur Kimbal Musk's company over the use of the phrase

Underconsideration.com

The company owned by Wolfgang Puck is suing restaurateur Kimbal Musk's company over the use of the phrase "the kitchen." Puck is bringing "The Kitchen by Wolfgang Puck" to GSP.

 

Celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck, who is opening a restaurant at Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport, is in a battle in federal court in Chicago, to preserve the right to use “the kitchen” in restaurant names.

The Kitchen by Wolfgang Puck is under construction at GSP and on target to open in the second quarter, according to Scott Carr, the airport’s VP for Commercial Business and Properties.

Puck’s sit-down restaurant at GSP, located in the Grand Hall for passengers only, is the centerpiece for the airport’s food and beverage establishments. GSP officials have delayed the $125 million airport’s renovation grand opening until Puck’s restaurant has opened.

“There’s been no order by a judge designating not to use ‘The Kitchen,’” said Phillip Jones, a Chicago attorney representing Puck in the complaint.

The complaint filed in Chicago is between plaintiffs Wolfgang Puck Worldwide which owns and operates some restaurants, and Wolfgang Puck Licensing, which handles franchised locations. The defendants are Kimbal Musk, one of the founders of The Kitchen and brother of SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.

Musk's The Kitchen Cafe, LLC filed a complaint with Wolfgang Puck Licensing in November 2016.

Puck’s company announced opening a restaurant named The Kitchen by Wolfgang Puck in Chicago that, according to Musk, causes confusion in the restaurant industry and marketplace with his brand. Musk owns The Kitchen Café in Chicago.

Puck’s complaint states: that the phrase “the Kitchen” is fundamentally incapable of protection as a standalone trademark or service mark or as an element of a trademark or service mark because it is generic, or, at best, merely descriptive of such services, and that TKC’s assertion is legally untenable and factually absurd.

Puck’s complaint states, “that the term ‘kitchen’ is not a protectable term because it is generic, so highly descriptive as to be incapable of functioning as a trademark through acquired distinctiveness, or merely descriptive and lacking secondary meaning.”

Wolfgang Puck Licensing filed a motion to dismiss a similar Colorado complaint and make Chicago the appropriate place for the case to be heard. The judge has not ruled on the appropriate place for the case to be heard.

 

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