Remember when Picnik, the health food spot, sued Bento Picnic, the Japanese restaurant, for having a similar name? Well, a judge just threw the whole lawsuit out of court. Specifically, United States District Judge Robert Pitman dismissed all of Picnik’s claims against Bento Picnic.
Picnik’s original trademark infringement lawsuit against Bento Picnic alleged that consumers would confuse the restaurants because of what it said were similar names, menus, and logos and that Bento Picnic wrongfully profited from the similarities.
Pitman concluded that “a consumer, health-conscious or otherwise, is not likely to confuse a Japanese-style bento-box restaurant with a place known for its butter coffee.” In his summary judgement, he also seemed to chide Picnik with statements like:
Picnik does not bother arguing that the two companies’ signs or logos look similar... Picnik’s silence tacitly admits what a visual comparison makes clear: the companies signs and logos look very different.
Though Picnik and Bento Picnic have coexisted in Austin for about five years, the lawsuit was filed this May, soon after Picnik raised $7.5 million from a private equity firm last August.
In an email, Bento Picnic owner Leanne Valenti told Eater, “I’m relieved that common sense has prevailed and I am very grateful for the support I’ve received from the Austin community.” That said, each party was responsible for its own legal fees (which isn’t always the case in dismissals), so Valenti is exploring getting these fees reimbursed.
“We incurred significant expenses handling this frivolous lawsuit and I am hopeful that we can at least get the legal fees paid back,” she said. “We are hoping that this next phase of the lawsuit will wrap up soon so that we can get back to focusing our efforts and energy toward more positive, productive ends.”
Picnik has not returned requests for comment. Eater will update this article as needed.
Picnik’s first food trailer opened in 2013 on South Lamar, followed by an expansion to Burnet Road. It also sells a retail line of butter coffee drinks.
Bento Picnic opened in 2014 as a catering business, and opened its shop on East Cesar Chavez last year.