Restaurants attempt to trademark “panda” and “poke”

When Paul and Nicole Fan decided to name their Asian-Mexican fusion restaurant, “Panda Libre,” they did not anticipate the legal battle ahead. Last month, Chinese takeout chain Panda Express sued the suburban Phoenix restaurant for trademark infringement in federal court, AP reports. Parent company Panda Restaurant Group claims it has owned the trademark for “Panda” in Chinese food services since 2001. Panda Express, which generated $2 billion in sales last year, wants to claim all of Panda Libre’s profits and destroy any signs, social media posts, and materials with the name. The growing popularity of fast-casual Thai, Indian, and poke restaurants has raised similarly sticky questions about whether chains can claim broad linguistic ownership.

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