Chicago sues Fire Department Coffee for trademark infringement

Illustration for article titled Chicago sues Fire Department Coffee for trademark infringement
Photo: ventdusud (iStock)

There are a couple things wrong with the name Fire Department Coffee. For one, you’ll probably be tricky to Google. For another, an actual fire department might get mad and sue you.

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The Chicago Sun-Times reports that the City of Chicago is suing Fire Department Coffee in Rockford, Illinois, claiming that the coffee roaster’s logo is too close to the Chicago Fire Department’s own logo, infringing on the latter’s trademark.

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The lawsuit, filed in January, alleges that the similarity of the two logos, which both “consist of the letters D, F and C intertwined in a stylized monogram,” will confuse customers and lead to the mistaken belief that the Chicago Fire Department has somehow endorsed or collaborated on this coffee, which it most certainly has not. It has fires to fight! In Chicago! The lawsuit goes on to state that the trademark “is intentionally attempting to improperly ride on the city’s coattails and trade on the city’s success and goodwill.” For its part, Fire Department Coffee seems to acknowledge similarity while dismissing claims of infringement, saying in a statement, “Our company, which is founded and operated by firefighters, is reflected in our logo, a style that is used by fire departments across the nation.”

The Sun-Times notes that the coffee company uses the logo on not only bags of coffee, but mugs and other merchandise as well, and that a percentage of the proceeds goes toward helping injured first responders. There’s no resolution to this dispute yet, and in the meantime, it’s worth asking: Did the band The Postal Service have to deal with this sort of thing?

Marnie Shure is editor in chief of The Takeout.

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DISCUSSION

If you read the linked Chicago Sun-Times article, this picture is at the top and makes a much stronger case for some kind of infringement going on here. The actual Chicago fire dept. logo is on the right (trademark registration issued in 2006), coffee on the left.