A New Jersey based restaurant that plans on serving healthy greek food has decided to use the name Walking Dead. This of course got the attention of Robert Kirkman who has sued to protect the trademark for The Walking Dead, his comic and television series.
But the owners of the restaurant, Philip Theodorou, Steven Theodorou, Anna Theodorou and Mohamed Elkady are putting up a fight. In response to the lawsuit and summary judgement motion, the four claim that Kirkman and AMC are limited in their rights. Pointing out that Kirkman considered calling the comic Night of the Living Dead after the George Romero film before choosing The Walking Dead and claiming that Kirkman has piggybacked his success on the centuries of work establishing zombies prior to the comics creation.
They also point to songs, books and other works lincluding the 1936 Boris Karloff film called The Walking Dead to show that the term has been used for a very long time. They state in their brief that Kirkman is trying to take ownership of a phrase that has been in common use among horror film fans since the early 1900’s. They say that the term The Walking Dead is descriptive and not distinctive and accuse Kirkman of trademark misuse and misrepresentation by claiming otherwise.
Kirkman responded in a New Jersey Federal Court on Tuesday, saying the other uses of The Walking Dead are inadmissable as hearsay and none of them used the term as a trademark. He points at the use of the phrase in the market, besides the cable series, there are also licenses for figures, games, towels, beer, and much more. His brief states: “The Walking Dead Mark is suggestive, as it requires consumer imagination, thought, or perception to determine that it refers to zombies.”
This looks like it’s going to be an interesting case as it continues.