Viacom says that yOu cAn'T juSt Go aRouNd oPeNiNg 'SpoNgeBoB SquArepAnts' rEstAuraNts.
Screengrab via Twitter
All Javier Ramos, Jr. has wanted since 2015 to was to open a chain of restaurants in Houston and Los Angeles called the Krusty Krab. He chose that name because of his fondness for the phrase that refers to the “crust that sticks to the top of crabs when they are put in a seafood boil,” or so he says.
He allegedly didn’t realize the spelling of his hypothetical restaurant's name was identical to that of the fictional joint where SpongeBob Squarepants works as a fry cook on Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob Squarepants. Yeah, that's right: I'm talking about that undersea fast food paradise known for serving Krabby Patties and the occasional Krusty Krab pizza, famously “the pizza for you and me.”
But Ramos' would-be restaurant chain hasn’t seen the light of day, as Nickelodeon’s parent company Viacom hit the company Ramos owns, IJR Capital Investments LLC, with a lawsuit in January 2016. Viacom claimed Ramos' proposed restaurants would infringe on Viacom's trademark, even though Viacom hadn’t filed a formal trademark for the Krusty Krab name.
These two parties have been embroiled in a legal tango ever since, one that feels never-ending. A Houston district court ruled in favor of Viacom last January, claiming that IJR’s use of the name Krusty Krab could create “a likelihood of confusion” for consumers expecting a nautical dining experience when they step inside Ramos’ restaurants. But IJR subsequently appealed the ruling last May, and the appeal has now reached the Fifth Circuit.
Earlier this week, Courthouse News reported on Tuesday, Ramos’ lawyer argued to the Fifth Circuit that Viacom can't bar his client from using the Krusty Krab.
Boy, what a mess! Guess Sandy doesn’t wish she were in Texas!
The show is a cash cow for Viacom, which might explain the company’s territorial nature in regards to the Krusty Krab name. Ramos claimed that he wasn’t initially aware of any similarities, though he did mention in court that he’d searched for the Krusty Krab online before and come across the SpongeBob association. He’s allegedly proposed changing the spelling of the name to, say, Crusty Crab to thaw tensions between the two parties, but he claimed last year to the Houston Press that he was being “bullied” by Viacom regardless.
The hearing on Monday was a seemingly tense scene (“Krusty is not an appetizing word and spelling crab with a K certainly does not denote fine dining,” Viacom’s lawyer allegedly said at one point) in which both warring parties articulated their stances. There’s currently no word on when the Fifth Circuit will issue a ruling. Neither Ramos nor Viacom’s lawyers responded to immediate request for comment from MUNCHIES on Wednesday.
If Ramos doesn't get his way, my suggestion is to just rename his chain Chum Bucket and see what the hell happens.