So there’s a national franchise called the “Texas Roadhouse”, and there’s a privately owned watering hole in La Vernia called the True Blue Texas Roadhouse. Put ’em together and what do you get? Right. A lawsuit.
The Kentucky-based Texas Roadhouse restaurant chain sued the La Vernia bar and owner Douglas Bode in U.S. District Court in Austin earlier this month, claiming trademark infringement.
The Texas Roadhouse chain operates more than 165 bar-restaurants with Texas memorabilia on the walls and peanut shells on the floor. They’re in 30 states and have 24 franchises in Texas, including Texas Roadhouses just off major highways in Waco, San Antonio and Killeen.
The True Blue Texas Roadhouse is a 40-by-100-foot corrugated metal building that used to be a garage. There’s just one, next to fields of sunflowers on the two-lane Texas 87 between San Antonio and Victoria.
The front is painted the red, white and blue of the Texas flag, and the inside features four pool tables and a steady stream of country music. Bartenders serve bags of chips and a lot of Bud Light to a couple of dozen customers a weeknight and two or three times that many on weekends.
“I am just trying to make a living. I don’t want to offend anybody,” said Bode, 38, a tall man with big hands and a gentle voice. “For God’s sake, I’m a Texas bar. Why can’t I use that name?”
Bode, a former curtain company production manager, said he thought of the name on a late night drive with friends back from New Orleans. He did some research of business names with the clerk in Wilson County, and it looked as if True Blue Texas Roadhouse was available, he said. Just over two years ago, he opened up.
In the lawsuit, Texas Roadhouse’s lawyer, Tom Walsh of Dallas, wrote that Bode violated the corporation’s rights to its federal and state trademarks, which were filed before Bode opened the bar. The first Texas Roadhouse opened in Indiana in 1993.
By using “Texas Roadhouse” in his bar’s name, Bode “calculated to deceive the relevant consuming public into accepting and purchasing Bode’s services in the mistaken belief that they are Texas Roadhouse’s services,” wrote Walsh, of Fish & Richardson, a prominent Dallas intellectual property firm.
The nearest Texas Roadhouse restaurant to the bar is about 20 miles away in Live Oak, north of San Antonio.
Emphasis mine. I don’t have any opinion about the merits of this lawsuit. I just find it really weird that the trademark to “Texas Roadhouse” is owned by an outfit in Kentucky and was first used in Indiana.