Saturday, September 03, 2011

Would gay bars want to trademark their names? A road adventure (and a warning about red light cameras)

Driving down Philadelphia Street in Ocean City (coming down from Rehoboth) I noticed a “JR’s” steak house. Actually, from the quick picture while stopped at a light, I see "JR's Ribs".  

I wondered, mischievously, could the use of that name produce a trademark problem since the chain of gay bars with that name is so well known (in several cities, at least Washington, Dallas, Houston and Denver). 

But the name has been used in suburbs and other cities for family restaurants, apparently.  And in Dallas, other characters from the show generate names of gay bars, like SueEllen’s. 

Trademark law generally allows the same name to be used for different kinds of businesses, because they won’t cause “confusion”, although that idea hasn’t always been followed well.  Certainly, a character in a show is a different entity from an eating or dancing establishment. 

But as the gay community becomes more seamless, at least in many parts of the country (with the acceptance of gay marriage in some states), would the idea that a brand needs to convey whether a place is gay or straight hold water?  I wonder. 

One other thing about Philadelphia Street (southbound).  I noticed red light cameras at every intersection, but no signs warning about photo enforcement of traffic laws (becoming common in some areas in Maryland). 

What gives there?  (A photo enforcement camera should cause consumer confusion.)

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