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Texas Pig Stands, Inc. v. Hard Rock Cafe International, Inc.

951 F.2d 684 (1992)

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Texas Pig Stands, Inc. v. Hard Rock Cafe International, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

951 F.2d 684 (1992)

Facts

Texas Pig Stands, Inc. (TPS) (plaintiff) opened its first store in 1921. TPS once had more than 100 outlets nationwide but by this point owned fewer than 10. TPS registered a trademark for “pig sandwich” (a term long and widely used in Tennessee) for its barbecue-pork sandwich. Hard Rock Cafe International, Inc. (Hard Rock) (defendant), cofounded by Tennessean Isaac Tigret, owned an international chain of restaurants. In 1982, Hard Rock’s Tennessee restaurant began selling a barbecue-pork sandwich it called a pig sandwich; Hard Rock soon sold pig sandwiches at its other locations. TPS and Hard Rock never competed in the same city at the same time. In Dallas, for example, Hard Rock opened more than a year after TPS left that market. In 1989, TPS sued Hard Rock, alleging that Hard Rock’s sale of barbecue-pork sandwiches under the pig-sandwich name in Dallas violated the Lanham Act, including by infringing on TPS’s trademark. TPS sought an award of Hard Rock’s profits, attorney’s fees pursuant to § 1117(a) of the act, and a permanent injunction against further infringement. Hard Rock argued that its use of the term pig sandwich was wholly unrelated to TPS. The jury ruled against Hard Rock on all issues and found that Hard Rock was unjustly enriched by its infringement. The district court set aside the jury’s unjust-enrichment finding as insufficiently supported by the record, reasoning that TPS effectively had no goodwill in Dallas because it abandoned Dallas before Hard Rock opened there and therefore no Hard Rock sales of barbecue pork sandwiches were due to infringement. However, the district court found this to be an exceptional case pursuant to § 1117(a) because Hard Rock (a large, prosperous company) simply disregarded the trademark rights of a smaller, struggling business, and it awarded TPS more than $400,000 in attorney’s fees. The district court also issued a permanent injunction against further infringement. Both parties appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Brown, J.)

Dissent (Johnson, J.)

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