SpongeBob Wins Trademark Battle Against Krusty Krab Restaurant

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A federal judge this week ruled in favor of media company Viacom, stating that the fictional restaurant "The Krusty Krab" in the animated television series "SpongeBob SquarePants" is worthy of trademark protection. SpongeBob is aired by Viacom's Nickelodeon cable network.

U.S. District Judge Gray Miller of Houston, who presided over the case, made the ruling in the trademark infringement dispute over the name "The Krusty Krab," by IJR Capital Investments, LLC, owned by Javier Ramos.

Viacom sued to stop Ramos from pursuing plans to start a chain of restaurants called "The Krusty Krab." In 2015, Ramos applied for a Krusty Krab trademark through his company, IJR. Knowing this, Viacom lawyers sent him a cease-and-desist letter demanding the name change, to which he refused. Following this, the media company approached the court.

Viacom argued that "The Krusty Krab", the underwater restaurant owned by a crab and catering to sea creatures, has been a key element of the "SpongeBob SquarePants" show. The name is included in over 150 episodes, feature films, a musical, and licensed consumer merchandise.

IJR countered that the SpongeBob character is not as well-known as Superman, but failed to include any authority to support its argument that fictional titles are not afforded trademark protection.

The court noted that IJR's proposed restaurant, "The Krusty Krab," is the same name and spelling of Nickelodeon's fictional restaurant.

Ramos said he plans to appeal, and if that doesn't work, he'd consider changing the restaurant name to Crusty Crab, the Wall Street Journal reported.

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