Last month, in a rather unremarkable decision, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board affirmed a refusal to register Jed’s Jerky for… jerky. The examining attorney refused registration on the ground that the mark so resembled Jed’s for barbeque sauce that consumers would likely be confused about whether Jed’s Jerky and Jed’s barbeque sauce come from the same source.

The Board considered the marks Jed’s and Jed’s Jerky to be highly similar. So, in large part, the decision came down to a consideration of the relatedness of the goods. The examining attorney did a good job of showing that jerky and barbeque sauce are closely related. She found evidence that the KC Masterpiece barbeque sauce trademark is used on jerky.

     She also found that the Sweet Baby Ray’s barbeque sauce trademark is used on jerky.
     MPG Jed’s Management owned the cited registration of Jed’s for barbeque sauce. The applicant argued that Jed’s barbeque sauce probably was sold only in restaurants because MPG Jed’s Management owns the Jed’s barbeque sauce registration and also owns a registration of Jed’s for restaurant services.
     Wait. What? Twenty-one years ago, way up in Ely Minnesota, Pam Steklasa, née Pearson, began selling her signature barbeque sauce.

     It was a big hit at county fairs and deservedly earned her some ribbons. She filed an application for federal trademark registration and her registration issued in May, 1996. One month later, closer to home, the first Jed’s Barbeque and Brew restaurant opened on Reynolds Road in Toledo. Its signature Fireballs chicken chunks were an immediate hit.

     Pam’s registration of Jed’s for barbeque sauce was a potential obstacle for an application to register Jed’s for restaurant services. Indeed, more than a few restaurants, such as Bob Evan’s, sell private label sauces under their own names. Upon considering the options open to it, Jed’s restaurants decided to take the direct approach and reach out to Pam. Before it could find Pam, it found Ed Steklasa. Turned out that Ed was the former Mayor of Ely Minnesota and the former husband of Pam. Honorable Ed explained that he and his ex-wife Pam had ended their marriage and that, as a consequence of the property settlement in the divorce, Ed owned half of the barbeque sauce business and half of the federal trademark registration of Jed’s.

     Ed and Jed’s negotiated Jed’s restaurants’ purchase of the Steklasas’ barbeque sauce company and their trademark registration. Honorable Ed was very accommodating and it was agreed that Jed’s restaurants would send a certified money order made out to Ed and Pam, and Ed would get the assignment executed and return it to Jed’s. Wait. Up to that point, there had been no direct communication between Jed’s restaurants and Pam Steklasa. Jed’s restaurants contacted attorney Bill Defenbuagh, Jr., in Ely and asked him if he would host a Steklasa trademark registration assignment execution party. He chuckled and said that he’d be happy to, and that he would reach out to Ed to set it up. In short order, Ed called and fessed up. He acknowledged that Pam had no idea that he had negotiated the sale of the barbeque sauce business and the trademark registration.

     When Pam learned about the deal, she decided that it was fair and she agreed to the terms that had been negotiated. Two checks and two assignments were dispatched to Bill in Ely. So, Jed’s restaurants came to own the Steklasa federal registration of Jed’s for barbeque sauce and, later, it succeeded in registering Jed’s for restaurant services.

     Jed’s has has faced other obstacles and overcome them. The parking lot at the Reynolds Road Jed’s restaurant is fairly full every time that I drive past it on my way home. And, every time that I drive by, my mind wanders back to the time that I was nearly outfoxed by Honorable Ed.

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