Trademark Protection Case: The Beaver Has Teeth

As with any corporate transaction, we understand the importance of your brand to your business and your reputation, and we are dedicated to helping you protect these critical assets. Whether it be the selection, registrability of trademarks and service marks, the advantages of registration, the exploitation of trademark, or domain name rights, we routinely advise clients on trademark protection. To that end, following is a recent case that will be of interest to our corporate clients.

The Beaver (logo) Has Teeth

Following a one week trial, a Houston, Texas jury returned a verdict finding that an alligator infringed on the trademark of a beaver. More specifically, the travel-stop chain of Buc-ee’s had its trademarked logo violated by the alligator logo of Choke Canyon BBQ, a competitor.

The Buc-ee’s logo features a cartoon beaver with large teeth, wearing a red baseball cap, in front of a yellow background. In contrast, Choke Canyon’s logo is that of a cartoon green alligator, licking its lips and wearing a cowboy hat. While the Choke Canyon alligator is also placed in front of a yellow background, the most recent iterations of the logo include the name of the company.

At the trial, Buc-ee’s pointed to ten similarities between the two logos. Alternatively, Choke Canyon presented evidence that showed that there was no brand confusion based on the logos from a survey of over 300 people. The jury deliberated for six hours before returning their decision in favor of Buc-ee’s. An attorney for Choke Canyon noted that while the jury panel was familiar with the Buc-ee’s brand and were fans, he saw no reason for the finding that consumers could be confused by a competitor’s logo that was so different.