New Jersey has sued a Florida pizza shop for misappropriating the Garden State Parkway logo for its own pizza-related logo. Let’s get to the best sentence in the lawsuit now: “Over the years, many third parties have attempted to trade off of the fame and notoriety associated with Plaintiff’s Garden State Parkway Logo and Plaintiff has actively and successfully policed against infringing third-party uses of its mark.” Notorious G.S.P.!
The state has filed a lawsuit against Jersey Boardwalk Pizza, claiming its Garden State Parkway knockoff logo — and a similar mark used for franchising — is attempting to piggyback off the “fame” of the Parkway and could confuse customers into thinking the Parkway is running the pizza shop. (Wouldn’t that be bad for the business? That new rest stop barely has any bathroom stalls!)
Jersey previously served the pizza place with a cease-and-desist. In a letter attached to the lawsuit, a lawyer for the company defended the logo: “Given the very distinct difference in the goods and services offered by our respective clients (yours being a governmental agency providing highway maintenance and travel related services exclusively in the state of New Jersey — ours being a franchisor of pizza restaurants providing the opportunity to provide delicious pizza and Italian food to patrons of its licensed restaurants), there is no plausible likelihood of confusion.”
That sentence is under the heading “Likelihood of Confusion: Source of Pizza Restaurants = Source of Pothole Repairs.”
The state disagreed. In another letter from a lawyer for the state also attached to the suit, Jersey replies: “Your reliance on alleged differences between the respective goods and services to demonstrate a lack of customer confusion is equally unconvincing … our client’s iconic Garden State Parkway Logo mark is entitled to a wide scope of protection and therefore can easily bridge any gap between the respective goods and services. Moreover, there are many service areas along the Garden State Parkway that include restaurants, many of which feature pizza. As such, consumers who encounter your client’s mark as used in connection with its restaurant services will mistakenly assume that your client’s use of the mark is authorized by NJTA and/or that the food items served at your client’s restaurant are associated with the food served at the restaurants located at the service areas on the Garden State Parkway.”
A copy of the lawsuit and the lawyers’ letters are below.