Trademark Attorney Morris Turek

Morris E. Turek

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Trademark Registration Happenings: Is Red Robin Becoming a Trademark Bully?

Red Robin Trademark

This week’s post combines my two of my favorite things in life: burgers and trademarks.  Red Robin is a casual family-friendly dining chain known primarily for its “gourmet” burgers and bottomless steak fries.  It also offers a wide variety of salads, chicken sandwiches, soups, wraps, and appetizers.  I’ve eaten at Red Robin on numerous occasions and I almost always order the delicious “Burnin’ Love Burger,” which consists of a cayenne-seasoned beef patty topped with salsa, fried jalapenos, pepperjack cheese, lettuce, tomato, and chipotle mayo served on a jalapeno-cornmeal kaiser roll.  Sometimes, if I’m really hungry, I’ll add a second hamburger patty to that bad boy and maybe ask for a small refill on the fries.  So, if you ever notice that I haven’t uploaded new blog posts for a few weeks straight, it’s likely safe to assume that I either suffered a massive coronary or am dealing with debilitating heartburn.  Either way, it was worth it.

Anyway, as part of its television and online advertising campaigns, Red Robin uses a catchy little jingle consisting of “Red Robin…Yummm” sung by a quartet of male voices.  If you click here, you can watch one of Red Robin’s TV commercials.  But, I have to warn you, the jingle is so infectious that you’ll end up singing the darn thing every time you drive by a Red Robin restaurant.

Not surprisingly, Red Robin has taken steps to protect its trademark.  In addition to the many federal trademark registrations owned by Red Robin for its well-known RED ROBIN mark, it also owns a trademark registration issued in 2010 for YUMMM for “restaurant services.”  Furthermore, Red Robin is the owner of a 2009 trademark registration for a sound mark that is described as “a quartet of male voices singing “YUMMM,” as a whole-note chord consisting of G2, D3, B3, and D4.”  So, basically, Red Robin has federally registered both the word YUMMM and the unique way in which it is musically presented in its commercials.

Well, it appears that Red Robin might be starting to join the ranks of those companies that are addicted to filing trademark oppositions.  In just the past two months, Red Robin has filed a whopping six oppositions against six different trademark applications for marks that incorporate some variation of the word “yummy.”  All of these oppositions are based on Red Robin’s belief that these marks are likely to cause confusion with its YUMMM marks.  Here is a list of the offending marks:

BERRY YUMMI (Serial No. 85237186) for “frozen yogurt” and “frozen yogurt shop services in the nature of a restaurant”

FRESH YUMMY START (Serial No. 85201910) for “providing catering for school cafeterias and other facilities; catering”

WE’RE BRINGING YUMMY BACK (Serial No. 85201753) for “providing catering for school cafeterias and other facilities; catering”

YUMMY STUFF (Serial No. 85188210) for “cafes”

LIFE’S SHORT…SAY YUM (Serial No. 85193164) for “nuts and chocolate nuts”

YUMMLY (Serial No. 85024498) for “online retail store services featuring foods, spices, cooking equipment, culinary publications, and accessories” among other educational and informational services related to cooking, recipes, dining, food, etc.

What do you think?  Has Red Robin gone cuckoo?  Is it just puffing its chest like all the other trademark bullies out there?  What if I told you that Red Robin is the not the only eatery to have adopted a form of the word “yummy” as a trademark for its services.  A cursory search of the Trademark Office’s records reveals existing trademark registrations for YUM’S SUBS, YUM YUM, YUM YUM ASIA CAFE, YUMMY YOGURT CAFE, YUMMY FOOD, YUMMY SUSHI, and YUMMY BARTENDERS, all of which are for services related to the provision of food.  This is hardly shocking considering that ordinary Americans have been using the term “yummy” to describe good-tasting food for decades, if not centuries.  So, while the way in which Red Robin’s YUMMM trademark sounds is admittedly quite distinctive, I don’t think it takes a trademark attorney to conclude that the term “yummy” (and similar variations) should not be entitled to a very broad spectrum of protection when used in connection with products and services related to food and beverages.  In fact, I’m not sure I could think of a more suggestive trademark for the food/beverage industry.

So, drop a comment and let your opinion be heard.  Or, if you’re not interested in trademarks (is that possible?) just let me know which burger on Red Robin’s menu you prefer and why it’s the best one on the menu.  And don’t forget to include the maximum number of refills on french fries you’ve consumed during a single visit.  Can anyone beat three?

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One Response to Trademark Registration Happenings: Is Red Robin Becoming a Trademark Bully?

  1. Tung says:

    While it makes sense to me that they actually trademarked the use of the G major chord in that voicing with the word YUMMM, since my family and I also have an issue with having to say this whenever we pass by or think of Red Robin, I do think it’s ridiculous that they would try to take “yum” or “yummy” away from other businesses.

    Personally, I always go for a lettuce-wrapped burger to reduce the carbs, but it’s hard to pass up on the fries.

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