A federal court in Illinois has refused to temporarily stop Red Hot Chicago from allegedly marketing its hot dogs by referring to Ladany family recipes, claiming its recipes date back to 1893 or indirectly implying an affiliation with Vienna Beef. Vienna Beef, Ltd. v. Red Hot Chicago, Inc., No. 11-03825 (U.S. Dist. Ct., N.D. Ill., E. Div., order entered June 21, 2011). More information about the trademark-infringement lawsuit appears in Issue 398 of this Update.
Vienna Beef claimed, in its motion for a temporary restraining order (TRO), that it would be irreparably harmed while its action was pending. The court disagreed finding that, with the exception of a single advertisement for Red Hot products appearing in the May 2011 issue of a trade publication, “the complained of advertising has been in use for years and thus this Court fails to see the emergency necessitating a TRO.”
The court not only found that Vienna Beef was unlikely to succeed on the merits of its false-advertising and trademark-infringement claims, it also noted that a TRO would not prevent customer confusion because Vienna Beef had shown “no evidence of any customer confusion.” The court also concluded that “a TRO would not be in the public interest since it would curtail commercial competition when Vienna Beef has not carried its burden to show that such an order is necessary to prevent harm.”