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The company behind True Food Kitchen has filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against Founding Farmers for using the phrase “true food & drink” in its signage, on its website, and elsewhere.
In a complaint filed yesterday in U.S. District Court, Fox Restaurant Concepts (FRC Balance LLC) argues that Founding Farmers’ branding causes confusion with its health-focused restaurant chain, which opened a location in Fairfax’s Mosaic District in September 2014.
“We’ll of course defend ourselves vigorously, and I find it bafflingly meritless,” Founding Farmers co-owner Dan Simons says. “But I’m proud to be a small independent restaurant group, and if we have to defend ourselves legally against corporate giants with private equity folks calling their shots, so be it.”
Fox Restaurant Concepts has held the trademark for “TRUE FOOD” since 2008. The lawsuit says Founding Farmers attempted to file a trademark for “Founding Farmers True Food & Drink” in 2013, but abandoned it after Fox Restaurant Concepts opposed the registration with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.
The two restaurant groups engaged, unsuccessfully, in settlement discussions between 2014 and August 2015, according to the complaint. Fox Restaurant Concepts says that during those discussions, Founding Farmers opened its Tysons Corner location using “true food & drink” less than five miles from True Food Kitchen’s Fairfax location. The lawsuit also alleges that Founding Farmers’ promotion of healthy choices, such as juice cleanses, emulate its own offerings.
Fox Restaurant Concepts notes that after it published its True Food cookbook, Founding Farmers published its own cookbook in 2013 with the subtitle “100 recipes for true food & drink.” It also points out that the last four digits of Founding Farmers’ phone number for its Foggy Bottom location spells “TRUE.”
As evidence of the brand confusion, the plaintiff cites one specific example that’s not entirely flattering to itself: A diner on Yelp called True Food Kitchen “a creepy twin of Founding Farmers.”
Photo of Founding Farmers by Jessica Sidman