It’s the time of year that our thoughts turn to cranberry
sauce, pumpkin pie and of course – Turkey!
Just for fun this week, we thought we’d look at a few legal cases
involving the beloved birds.
In Louis Rich, Inc. v. Horace W. Longacre, Inc., the plaintiff
sued seeking an injunction to prevent the defendant from using the words “gobble-gobble”
in advertising its processed turkey product.
In 1976, The plaintiff, Louis Rich, Inc., applied to trademark the words
“Gobble-Gobble” based upon their first use of the words.
The defendant developed a commercial for its turkey ham
product in which a little boy is asked at the outset of the commercial a
riddle, “what do you say to a ham that is made out of turkey?”, to which he
replies “Gobble-gobble?” The boy was
then shown eating a “ham” sandwich. The
commercial ended with the boy repeating the catchphrase “gobble-gobble” in a
To prevail, and obtain an injunction, Louis Rich would
have to show that it would suffer immediate harm pendente lite, and that it had a reasonable likelihood of success on
the merits. The court determined that
both companies had been using the term “gobble-gobble” in advertising campaigns
in numerous markets. The court found
that the defendant’s use of the term did in fact infringe upon the plaintiff’s
The court stated: “The similarity between the use of the
term ‘gobble-gobble’ by the plaintiff and defendant is likely to create
confusion in consumer’s minds, impairing the mark’s function as a symbol of
plaintiff’s name and goods and thereby destroying the mark’s value to
Ultimately the court granted a preliminary injunction
prohibiting the defendant from using the term “gobble-gobble” in its
In Armour and Company v. Swift & Company, the US
Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit took up the issue of whether Armour
could patent a process of assembling pieces of turkey into a boneless
Initially Armour had developed a process of taking chunks
of meat and agitating them in a salt solution, then pressing them together and
cooking them to form one large piece of turkey.
When Swift & Company sought to duplicate the process, Armour sued
alleging that Swfit had violated Armour’s patent, obtained in 1966.
Initially the trial court found that Armour’s patent was
invalid, finding that the process was obvious to one of ordinary skill at the
time the alleged invention was made and that Armour was not completely
forthcoming with the patent office.
Armour appealed, contending that the
trial court’s findings were clearly erroneous.
On appeal, the Seventh Circuit upheld the trial court’s decision and
that the patent was invalid.
The court discussed at length the
mechanics of turning live birds into dinner fare, including the biology of
rigor-morits and how to stick the pieces together by “mechanically working
pieces or chunks of meat to form a tacky exudate which could be used to cement
abutting meat surfaces together.”
Finally, we have the case of Greenburg
Smoked Turkeys, Inc. v. Goode-Cook, Inc.
This was a lawsuit that was filed in 2010 in Texas. The case involves a claim by the plaintiff
that the defendant violated the plaintiff’s copyright by publishing
instructions for cooking turkeys that it sold through its website and using the
plaintiff’s instructions in the process.
Greenbug asked the court for an injunction and $150,000 in damages,
along with interest and attorney’s fees.
It was unclear how the Greenburg case
was ultimately resolved. If you know,
let us know and we will update with additional information, when available.
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