No matter what kind of business you’re going into, it’s important to make sure your name won’t violate another company’s trademark rights. A recent court case between two strip clubs owners, one in Texas, one in New York, illustrates this often-ignored rule. Let’s get into the details of this strip club trademark lawsuit.
The Baby Dolls Saloon is a name used for two clubs, one in Dallas, the other in Forth Worth, Texas. They’re owned by a company called TTNA, Inc. (You can insert your own humorous aside here.)
According to the legal filing, TTNA and its predecessors “…have been providing night club and entertainment services since at least as early as September 22, 1988…” using variations of the Baby Dolls name. They own six federal trademark registrations:
- BABY DOLLS for “Entertainment Services, in the nature of adult topless stage revues and performances” and for “Night Club Services.”
- BABY DOLLS SALOON for “Entertainment Services, in the nature of adult topless stage revues and performances” and for “Night Club Services.”
And, if that didn’t quite make the point:
- BABY DOLLS TOPLESS SALOON for “Entertainment Services, in the nature of adult topless stage revues and performances” and for “Night Club Services.”
At some point in 2015, apparently, Baby Dolls Cabaret Ltd. began operating a similar establishment in Fredonia, New York. This means war!
TTNA provided several pieces of evidence to show that the New York entity is doing business as “Baby Dolls Cabaret,” including this photo:
Reader, I can’t make this stuff up.
The legal filing also includes the following crucial information:
This establishment has received poor reviews including this Facebook post from August 9, 2015: “What a waste of $10. There really isn’t much else to say. It was remodeled but not too much different than before.”
The Strip Club Trademark Lawsuit
TTNA claims that they sent three items of correspondence to the New York company demanding that they cease and desist using the trademark BABY DOLLS. Apparently, there was no response, so TTNA filed suit on February 3, 2016 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas alleging trademark infringement, false advertising, and false designation of origin.
If TTNA’s claims are accurate, this seems like a fairly straightforward case. TTNA’s trademark registrations are well-established.
Although both of TTNA’s locations are in Texas, one presumes that they can muster up some evidence showing that they cater to interstate travelers (conventioneers, maybe; I can’t say for sure, because, while I did attend a convention in Forth Worth in 2015, I didn’t take the opportunity to visit their fine establishment.)
Maybe the New York folks didn’t do their due diligence before choosing their name; maybe they just didn’t care. But it’s not looking good for them.
So, people of Fredonia, you may have a newly renamed gentleman’s establishment to enjoy sometime soon.
And now, for some slightly less adult entertainment, enjoy Groucho Marx as Rufus T. Firefly, leader of Fredonia, in the Marx Brothers’ 1933 classic Duck Soup. Hail, Fredonia!