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Goats on the Roof Cause Legal Snafu

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Al Johnson's Goats by Jan.Crites on Flickr

Al Johnson's Goats by Jan.Crites on Flickr

If, by chance, you’re thinking about starting up an eating establishment and putting goats on the roof, be careful because you’re not the only one with the idea — not by a long shot.

In fact, Lars Johnson of Sister Bay, Wisconsin says he trademarked putting goats on the roof at Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant 14 years ago; according to the Wall Street Journal, when he found out that Tiger Mountain Market in Rabun County, Georgia had goats browsing on top of the building, he went, ahem, through the roof.

According to Johnson, his restaurant is “one of the top-grossing in Wisconsin,” and he has no doubt the goats have something to do with it — which means the “Goats on a Roof Trade Dress” is worth protecting in his opinion.

Meanwhile the owner of Tiger Mountain Market, Danny Benson, chose not to fight the federal lawsuit Johnson filed against him; even though Benson found the claim “ridiculous,” he decided for financial reasons to just pay Johnson a fee to keep his goats on the roof throughout the southeastern United States.

Interestingly, though, there also seems to be a bit of a domain name battle between these two establishments. While Goatsontheroof.com redirects to Al Johnson’s website, Goats-on-the-Roof.com takes you to a site about the goats on the roof in Raburn. There’s no word on whether we’ll eventually see the latter site renamed.

If you’re curious as to whether this is just an American phenomenon, by the way, surprisingly, it’s not. Coombs Country Market in British Columbia, Canada and the new Goats on the Roof coffee shop in the UK have also latched on to the idea. Who knows how many more roof-grazing goats are out there?

Just please consider yourself forewarned in case you’re planning a goat theme in your next restaurant.

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September 21st, 2010 at 11:18 am

Posted in Legal News

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