Thursday, July 7, 2016

Case of the Day: Quoc Viet Foods, Inc. v. VV Foods, LLC, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 87092 (C.D. Cal. June 14, 2016)

Summary:

Both parties are manufacturers of instant Vietnamese food, making concentrated soup base for various types of pho. Plaintiff sued the defendant for trademark violation, claiming that it has the trademark over the recurring word of "Cot" in its product names (e.g. Cot Pho Bo, Cot Pho Ga, etc.)

Based on the language expert testimony, the court decided that "cot" only means "condensed" or "concentrated." Because the word "cot" in the product name was merely descriptive of the product, the court found that there was no violation of trademark.

Takeaway:

Has there ever been this delicious of a case? Check out this opening for the opinion:
The traditional preparation of pho is highly labor-intensive: a pho cook will begin by boiling beef bones for 30 minutes, discarding the water, washing the bones, and then boiling them again to slowly extract the bone marrow and make a broth. Properly done, this process takes about a day. Crucially, while the broth is cooking, the cook must scrape away detritus and scum that floats to the top of the pot. Failing to do so will leave the broth cloudy instead of clear, as desired. A pho cook needs to tend the pot for many hours, periodically scraping the top and slowly extracting the marrow. Eventually meat and noodles are added to the broth to create the finished soup.
As to the more substantive point: it is highly interesting to see the court handling a trademark in foreign language. Vietnamese speakers--would you agree with the court's decision? Also consider this: if you want to protect your unique trademark, does it help or hurt to have a trademark in a foreign language?

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