Western Sizzlin Corp. v. Pinnacle Business Partners, L.L.C., 2012 WL 2048261 (M.D. Fl. 2012)
The Middle District of Florida ruled that a former Western Sizzlin licensee, operating in the same building and under the new name of “Sizzlin Grill” was not liable for trademark infringement based on: (1) changes to restaurants name and signage, (2) alterations to the exterior and interior of the restaurant, and (3) changes to the restaurants operations. Applying the Eleventh Circuit’s Frehling factors for trademark infringement claims to each of the three changes to the restaurant, the court found that consumer confusion was unlikely given the sign differences, the broad changes in layout and color scheme of both the interior and exterior of the restaurant, and a transition to a buffet-only business model. Especially important in the court’s analysis was its finding that potential customer overlap, and resulting likelihood of confusion, was minimal, given that the closest Western Sizzlin restaurant to the alleged infringer was two states away in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
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