Chicago Angry Crab cracked with trademark suit by Arizona Angry Crab

The Cook County Record Jun. 12, 2015, 11:45am

Will the real Angry Crab please stand up?

The Angry Crab, a restaurant that opened earlier this year at 5665 N. Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, has been sued in federal court by an Arizona group that runs two restaurants under the name Angry Crab, and who claim their stake to the moniker predates that of the Chicago establishment.

In the complaint, the Arizona Angry Crab group asserts its use of the name extends to Aug. 20, 2013. The restaurant group states it operates both a casual, Cajun-themed seafood restaurant in Mesa, known as the Angry Crab Shack, at which patrons buy seafood by the pound, and a Phoenix restaurant  — Angry Crab Shack & BBQ — that also offers traditional barbeque items.

The Mesa location’s logo features a sneering, eyepatch-sporting, trident-wielding crab. For the Phoenix eatery, the same crab is joined in the logo by a chipper anthropomorphic pig in a chef’s hat, white short-sleeved shirt and bow tie. The plaintiff owns pending applications for federal registrations for each logo.

The complaint further details what it intended as identifying components of its Arizona eateries, such as: a true “bag boil” concept where guests are provided bibs and shell crackers and encouraged to eat with their hands; an ordering process in which patrons select a seafood, sauce and spice level; menu items such as “Kajun” sauce; and “an industrial sink in the main dining area for guests to wash their hands so that they do not have to interrupt their dining experience by visiting the restroom to wash.”

The Chicago Angry Crab, according to the Arizona firm, was formed Jan. 21, 2015, and the restaurant opened in February. In addition to a similar logo — the crab is sneering, but not wearing an eyepatch or wielding a trident — the complaint itemizes several ways in which the Arizona restaurateurs allege the Chicago location openly copies the design, décor, menu and theme of the older Arizona establishments, down to the sink station in the dining area.

“Notably, just like plaintiff’s Angry Crab Shack restaurants, defendant’s Angry Crab restaurant features guest graffiti covering the wood walls of the restaurant,” the complaint states. “Defendant’s guests are also provided markers for making their own graffiti and encouraged to leave messages or drawings.”

Further, the Chicago location acquired and uses “theangrycrabshop” on Facebook and “angrycrabchicago” on Instagram, which the Arizona outfit asserts is “bad-faith intent to profit from the goodwill and value associated with plaintiff’s valuable mark.”

The complaint details the connection between Chicago and Arizona, highlighting the fact the Chicago Cubs base their spring training operations in Mesa, only seven miles from the Angry Crab Shack. The Arizona Angry Crab stated plans to further franchise, with initial expansion in Tucson, Atlanta, Denver and Chicago. The complaint says the Arizona restaurants have taken phone calls from customers looking to buy gift cards for the Chicago location.

The Arizona company said it sent a cease and desist letter March 5 before pursuing the infringement lawsuit. It seeks relief in the form of forcing the Chicago restaurant to drop any direct or implied association with the Arizona locations, plus being awarded the Chicago restaurant’s profits, as well as damages and legal fees.

Angry Crab Shack Corp., of Mesa, which seeks a jury trial, is represented by Brian M. Bergin of Bergin, Frakes, Smalley & Oberholtzer, PLLC, of Phoenix, as well as Charles A. Valente of Krasnow Saunders Kaplan & Beninati, LLP, of Chicago.

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