In honor of the Wisconsin Badgers’ huge win over #1 ranked Ohio State this weekend (GO BADGERS!), this week’s blog post is dedicated to a restaurant located just outside of Green Bay that owns quite the unusual trademark. As some of you know, I lived in Madison for five years while attending the University of Wisconsin and, during that time, I had the opportunity to travel all around the state before moving to St. Louis for law school in 2002. A few weeks ago, my former legal research and writing professor emailed me an article that reminded me why I love the Badger State and the crazy folks who live there.
According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, an eatery by the name of Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant has goats grazing on its grass-covered roof. Yes, you read that correctly. Actual goats eating real grass a few feet above where patrons are enjoying their Swedish-meatball sandwiches and pickled herring. These goats have been hanging out on top of the family-owned restaurant since 1973, which has become a tourist destination over the years and one of the top grossing restaurants in Wisconsin. In fact, these goats are so valuable to the success of Al Johnson’s that it actually obtained a trademark registration in 1996 for goats on a roof of grass for “restaurant services.” In addition, Al Johnson’s has a pending trademark application for a nearly identical mark for “retail store and online retail store services featuring gifts, food, clothing, toys, linens, dolls, books, and music.”
In 2007, the owner of a Georgia tourist spot called Tiger Mountain Market also thought it would be a good idea to woo business by having goats munch on the grass-covered roofs of its grocery store and gift shop. When Al Johnson’s recently got wind of this, it filed a federal trademark infringement lawsuit against Tiger Mountain Market alleging a violation of its registered trade dress (which is a type of trademark that refers to the look or feel of a product/service). The Wall Street Journal article reports that the owner of Tiger Mountain Market agreed to pay Al Johnson’s a licensing fee for the right to use the roof goats as a marketing tool rather than spend a ridiculous amount of money defending the lawsuit. Just to satisfy my own curiosity, I conducted a quick search just to see whether the owner of Tiger Mountain Market ever filed any trademark applications having to do with goats on a roof. Sure enough, I found an existing registration for the mark shown below (which I assume now will have to be assigned to Al Johnson’s if it even knows about the registration):
So, there you have it. Put goats on the grass roof of your business and you will have Al Johnson’s to contend with. Therefore, I recommend going with pigs wallowing on a roof-top pool of mud, or perhaps monkeys swinging from a roof covered with trees. It doesn’t really matter. Animals on roof = $$ in pocket.