Chicago sues coffee company over logo

On Behalf of | Mar 19, 2021 | Trademark enforcement |

The Chicago Fire Department says it has three main jobs: promote fire safety, provide emergency care and extinguish fires. You’ll notice that brewing coffee for the city’s 2.7 million residents is not on the list.

The city of Chicago made that point clear in a trademark infringement lawsuit recently filed against a coffee company. The city says Fire Department Coffee’s logo is nearly a mirror image of the symbol for the Second City fire department.

The company’s logo is a stylized monogram featuring the intertwined letters F, D and C – “just like the one for the Chicago Fire Department,” the Associated Press reported.

Consumer confusion

According to the lawsuit, the logo is likely to confuse consumers who might believe the city is endorsing the coffee brand.

Fire Department Coffee says on its website that the company is “run by firefighters” and that “10% of net proceeds” go to charitable organizations helping injured firefighters and other first responders.

In a press statement, the company says it “pursued all of the correct legal channels and secured an approved, registered trademark for our current Fire Department Coffee logo” and that its logo is in “a style that is used by fire departments across the nation.”

The city says the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued a trademark registration for its mark in 2006. The city also alleges the coffee company ignored a cease and desist letter sent in April 2019.

The lawsuit not only seeks to prevent Fire Department Coffee from using its logo, but it’s also asking for an order to the USPTO to cancel the company’s trademark registration.

Trademark infringement relief

The USPTO says relief available in trademark infringement lawsuits can include:

  • A court order stopping the defendant from using the mark
  • An order requiring the destruction (or forfeiture) of infringing articles
  • Monetary relief
  • An order requiring the defendant to pay the plaintiff’s attorney fees

It isn’t clear how this trademark dispute will be resolved, but we’ll let you know when we find out. Please check back.