What are Cheese Zombies? Delicious!

No, really – what are Cheese Zombies? According to Courtney, aka the Gourmet Rooster blogger, a cheese zombie is “a roll, stuffed with melted cheese.” Here’s a picture of one that she made:

     Are they hard to make? Not if you follow her step-by-step recipe.

Step one – Get some frozen roll dough:

Step two – Put the dough on the counter and let it thaw, and rise.

Step three – Form pockets in the risen dough.

Step four – Get some cheese and put it in the pockets.

What kind of cheese? Courtney says “duh, Velveeta. You can’t use real cheese for these. You just can’t.”

(This week, the Wall Street Journal reported that sales of processed cheese are down 9% since 2011. I predict that that trend will reverse very soon as the Cheese Zombie revival movement gains momentum).

Step five – Bake.

Step six – Enjoy.

     A Cheese Zombie movement? Yes folks. It’s a thing. Courtney’s Cheese Zombie blog post generated a lot of comments from Zombie fanatics like Jim who said “OMG!! I could not be more excited to make these. Making them this Saturday for sure. I have prayed for this recipe. Thank You!!!” Don said “Wow…as soon as I finished reading this I raaan to the grocery store!!!!” But the woman who graduated from Acalanes High in 1990 had set her sights higher. She and her boyfriend “…perfected these beauties our sophomore year in college in Isla Vista and wanted so badly to open a Del Playa Zombie cart for late drunken college nights–we planned on making a living off these beauties…I still think I could make a mil with my zombie cart.”

By now, you might be wondering if there is anything about trademarks in this tidbit. But of course! Eric Giacobazzi in California decided to find out if he could make millions with Zombies. His corporation, Dumploads on Us, applied to register the mark Cheese Zombies for filled bakery products.

     A registration issued to Dumploads on Us for its Cheese Zombies mark, with cheese disclaimed, in 2012. (This probably shouldn’t have happened in view of a 2009 registration of the mark Zombie for – wait for it – prepared bread having a cheese filling. But that’s not where we are going today.)

     Dumploads on Us took issue with Patty and Robert May who were doing business in California as Patty’s Original Cheese Zombies. Giacobazzi of Dumploads sent a letter to Patty informing her that Dumploads “owns the rights to the registered trademark “Cheese Zombie” (sic.) I will be in touch with you in the near future so we can resolve any issues in an amicable manner for all concerned.” Patty wasn’t feeling amicable, so she filed a Petition at the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board for Cancellation of the Cheese Zombies registration. She sought cancellation on the ground that the mark was generic and could not function as a trademark to indicate the source of [cheese] filled bakery products. Alternatively, she argued that Cheese Zombies was merely descriptive and that it wasn’t eligible for registration without proof that it had acquired a secondary meaning and had become an indicator of source

     I confess to being surprised that the Board held that Cheese Zombies was not generic. The two part test for genericness is (1) what is the genus of goods at issue? and (2) does the relevant public understand the designation primarily to refer to that genus of goods? The Board deemed the genus to be “filled bakery products” and the relevant public to be people “…who purchase and eat filled bakery products.” As to the public’s perception of the term, the Board looked at dictionary definitions, deposition testimony, media references, recipes, and testimony of Dumploads’ Giacobazzi. He testified that he went to Foothill Middle School, that they served Cheese Zombies in the lunchroom there, and that they called them Cheese Zombies. Nonetheless, the Board held that the evidence was insufficient “…to show that the relevant consumer would understand the term ‘cheese zombies’ as a type of ‘filled bakery products.” Hmmm. The Board had no trouble however, concluding that Patty had “…shown by a preponderance of the evidence that Defendant’s composite term “CHEESE ZOMBIES,” when viewed in relation to “filled bakery products,” immediately conveys an idea of characteristics of the goods, that is, that they are a type of baked bread product filled with cheese.” This is the definition of a merely descriptive term. Petition to Cancel granted.

Try it! You’ll like it! And buy stock in Velveeta!

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