The Hooters restaurant chain, known best for its barely dressed waitresses, is suing La Cima Restaurants over its Twin Peaks franchises for allegedly stealing its trade secrets.
Twin Peaks is a restaurant chain throughout several states whose motto is “Eats, Drinks, Scenic Views” — and also features scantily clad waitresses albeit not in a beach-themed location; instead its waitresses play up the mountain lodge theme by dressing as “lumberjills.”
The lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia claims that when Joseph W. Hummel, a former vice-president at Hooters, left the company, he took valuable trade secrets and other “sensitive business information” with him — and delivered them to La Cima.
The complaint (PDF) alleges that Hummel “gained unauthorized access to [Hooters’] computer systems, misappropriated [Hooters’] trade secrets and confidential business information, and shared such information with La Cima.”
Hummel is now a partner at La Cima as well as its COO, and La Cima recently announced plans to expand Twin Peaks into the southeastern United States, which includes the home of Hooters in Atlanta.
In the lawsuit, Hooters says their “iconic ‘Hooters Girls’ . . . represent the cornerstone of the [Hooters'] concept,” and that “Twin Peaks directly competes with [Hooters] in the market of casual dining restaurants featuring an all female waitstaff.”
Twin Peaks CEO Randy DeWitt has called the lawsuit “frivolous” and “baseless.” Hooters VP of marketing and chief marketing officer Mike McNeil maintains that its competitors need to “follow the rules” and that this litigation is intended “to provide our franchisee partners and employees with a fair and level playing field on which to compete.”
To get a good, erm, visual of what the case is all about, check out this clip from Anderson Cooper 360 from the day that Hooters made the RidicuList:
Then let us know — do you think Hooters has a case?