Federal Lawsuit Filed in Corpus Christi Over Lobster Baked Potato

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This lobster baked potato is at the heart of a contentious lawsuit.
It's the clash of the Longhorn Steakhouse titans down south in Corpus Christi, where a local chain of steakhouses with a name similar to the national LongHorn Steakhouse restaurants has filed a federal lawsuit over a lobster baked potato.

It's more complicated than that, of course, but the lobster baked potato -- a not-too-terrific-sounding dish in the first place -- is at the heart of the suit filed by The Longhorn Steakhouse Restaurant and Longhorn Steak & Ale, both of which have been serving their steaks in Corpus Christi since 1989.

The national LongHorn chain has been around since 1981, but has only been a national presence since it expanded in 1991 under the direction of Darden Restaurants, Inc., which also runs such chains as Olive Garden and Eddie V's.

For the sake of simplicity, we'll call the Corpus restaurants the Plaintiffs and we'll call the national LongHorn chain the Defendant, because that is the only way you can read the lawsuit and make sense of it.

The Defendant, based in Florida, recently began running a statewide promotion on two items: sirloin-and-crab-stuffed mushrooms and a lobster-topped baked potato, but it was apparently the latter of the two that proved to be a huge draw for residents of the coastal Texas city. And although there is not yet a LongHorn Steakhouse location in Corpus Christi, the Defendants are building one there soon.

It was this combination that caused confused dinner-seekers to wander into the Plaintiffs' similarly named restaurants in search of a lobster baked potato. When no such potato was found, the lawsuit alleges, "...the customers would then get aggravated because the advertised item being offered by defendants was not available in plaintiffs' restaurants."

The Defendant also sells gift cards (being a national chain, which makes a great deal of sense) and confused Corpus Christi diners were also allegedly bringing those gift cards into the Plaintiffs' restaurants and demanding the cards be honored there -- despite the fact that the restaurants are in no way related to each other.

The natural reaction to this, of course, was not to gently remind diners of this fact, but rather to file a federal lawsuit against Darden Restaurants, Inc. and the LongHorn Steakhouse chain for "false designation of origin under the Lanham Act, unfair competition and trademark dilution under state law."

The Plaintiffs hope to bar Darden and LongHorn from using their name or branding in Corpus Christi "or any other names or marks confusingly similar thereto in the Corpus Christi, Texas area" as, clearly, things are only going to get more confusing for Corpus diners in the ensuing months -- with or without the involvement of lobster baked potatoes.

Requests for comment from both parties were not immediately returned.



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15 comments
Ed T.
Ed T.

Uh... I happen to like lobster mashed potatoes, so I'm guessing I would like the baked version, as well. 

dirk
dirk

It is a fight between david and goliath. We all know who  the victorious one was. The little guy will win

Megan
Megan

I demand that they test the lobster to PROVE that it's the real deal and not an imitator!

Kguzman
Kguzman

ah small town folk, well small minded. I'm from corpus I can say things like that. how I do miss our simple, silly way of life sometimes.

Houstess
Houstess

Probably a preemptive strike.  Since Goliath is about to build, you can assume it will file suit against the Corpus David.  Goliath always does.  Congrats to David for grabbing their choice of forum.

Hbeard85
Hbeard85

Seriously? It's not the diner's fault for not knowing the difference? What ever happened to, "Oh, this is Longhorn STEAK & ALE, not Longhorn STEAKHOUSE. My mistake, I'll just save this gift card. Can I still get a to-go box, please?" I mean, wouldn't NOT seeing the promotional menu be a tip-off? Are people too lazy to read now? I'm not saying that the diners and waiters frustrations aren't valid, but surely there were signs to both parties that there's a difference, and it might be a problem....?

Mungostrap
Mungostrap

Sticking to Fung's Kitchen for my lobster fix, thank you very much.

 

LosNix
LosNix

Just as a point of reference, for those old enough to remember the two, this isn't too far off from what happened between Taco Cabana and Dos Pesos back in the early 90's. These results should be interesting, as it seems that it's the younger of the two companies who is filing suit... Doing so, however, against an incoming national chain. I'll be curious to see how this plays out.

Sho900
Sho900

This article sounds funny at first, but i'm sure there's going to be a substantial amount of money and jobs and stake here. Local Longhorn's need to stand up for themselves. No more bullying the small guy... enough is enough. This is America home of the brave!!!

Kguzman
Kguzman

I work in the industry. yes people are that lazy. no one wants to read menus and promo cards on the table. out is now servers jobs to inform guests. also, gift cards bring in guests who may not have ordinarily been able to afford the meal without someone else providing a card to pay for half the meal. generally, they dont have enough money top cover the bill or tip so they get upset.

Jellicles
Jellicles

Lobster and bean taco at La Fisheria!!

 

Texmex01
Texmex01

It was Teo Pesos, and their food was better thn Taco Cabana, but did not have the deep pockets they did, so they lost, well, we all lost really....

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