There's a restaurant in Fayetteville, Arkansas, called Northern Exposure. Its slogan: "GREAT STEAKS, COLD DRINKS & FREE SCENIC VIEWS." (Which may be true, according to the barren, surely-that-can't-be-right Google streetview.) There's no website at present -- the gentleman who answered when I called said it's down for maintenance.
Reason I called was I wanted to ask owner Kevin Laughlin about a federal lawsuit filed in Dallas on Friday. The owners of Addison-based Twin Peaks think Laughlin ripped off their concept -- down to the subtle snow-capped logo, the servers' red-and-black-checkered tops and the slogan "EATS · DRINKS · SCENIC VIEWS." Says the suit, Laughlin came to town a year ago to scout out Twin Peaks in hopes of franchising the breastaurant in Branson, Missouri. The Twin Peaks folks suggested Fayetteville instead "a result of its proximity to the University of Arkansas and the headquarters of Tyson Foods, Inc. and Wal-Mart Stores, Inc."
Twin Peaks' higher-ups say they helped scout locations and even offered an architect to assist with remodeling. At which point, the suit alleges, Laughlin went ahead and opened up a joint called Northern Exposure just last month. Says the suit, his actions "indicate that he always planned to operate a restaurant that would knock-off both the trademarks and the valuable trade dress belonging to Twin Restaurant." From the suit, which follows in full:
Upon information and belief, Mr. Laughlin chose the name Northern Exposure in order to trade on the goodwill of Twin Peaks and to evoke Twin Peaks' trade dress, which conveys to consumers a specific theme -- namely, a lodge in the northern wilderness. Moreover, the name "Northern Exposure" is a double entendre intentionally patterned after the name "Twin Peaks." Both unmistakably refer to geographical elements on a literal basis while also making figurative reference -- via innuendo readily understood by the targeted customers -- to the physical attributes of the servers.
Laughlin, who I didn't reach today, incorporated his business under the name .. wait for it, wait for it ... Grand Tetons.
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