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A tale of two trademarks

KFC’s current and highly popular ad campaign has shown a succession of celebrities portraying the legendary Colonel Sanders. The commercials are credited for turning around the fast food chain’s fortunes. From Daryl Hammond to George Hamilton, impressionists, actors and comedians share the iconic white suit with KFC’s blessing.

However, when it comes to sharing catchphrases, the Louisville-based fast food franchisor is not as generous.

Pittsford, New York-based entrepreneur Brian Mastrosimone recently received approval from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for “Finger Lakin’ Good,” remarkably similar to KFC’s well-known “It’s Finger Lickin’ Good” tagline.

Mastrosimone planned to use his catchphrase to promote various real estate, farm, brewery and other projects in the region, including a farm-to-table restaurant concept.

Not so fast, claims KFC, who filed a petition to the patent office claiming that Mastrosimone’s trademark deceives and confuses customers while exploiting the goodwill already associated with the company.

In the petition, KFC claimed that consumers might think that the goods and services offered by Mastrosimone’s businesses where authorized, endorsed, sponsored or licensed by the company.

Mastrosimone alleges that the trademark is a play on the nearby Finger Lakes region and is not connected with the fried chicken chain. He claims that there is no infringement because of the significant differences between the two companies.

In defending their trademark, KFC wished him well in his business endeavors, but requested revocation of the trademark and payment of $4,400 in attorney fees.

Claiming that he is “David” to KFC’s “Goliath, Mastrosimone is raising funds through his website and a GoFundMe campaign to pay for legal fees that will help him continue the fight.

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