Chicken Recipe and Sandwich Name Copyrights Meet the Chicken Plucker

I like to look for humor in the law.  I also like to provide answers to questions people occasionally ask me, such as “Can I copyright my recipe?” and “Can I copyright a name?”  This case both contains humor and answers these questions.  Dee, my spouse, and I recently helped our friends Rebecca and Barbara assemble a Whizbang Chicken Plucker, so this post also gives me an opportunity to work that in.  Some people may not know that the chicken plucker makes life easier for humans by removing the feathers from the chicken after the chicken has been butchered.

Crying foul over the trademarking and continued sale of a chicken sandwich, plaintiffs-appellants Norberto Colón Lorenzana and Gladys Goza González filed suit in the United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico.

(Opinion pdf page 2).

Norberto Colon Lorenzana (Colon) created a new chicken sandwich while working as an employee at South American Restaurant Corporation (SARCO), a Church’s Chicken franchisee, in Puerto Rico.  Colon named his creation the “Pechu Sandwich.”  SARCO eventually filed a trademark application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for the name “Pechusandwich” and received a federal trademark registration.  Colon sued SARCO for trademark law violations and copyright infringement.  The district court granted SARCO’s motion to dismiss.  The First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed.  This post addresses the copyright infringement issues only.

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