Firehouse Subs Loses Infringement Case, May be Required to Pay Half a Million in Damages

The chain sandwich shop Firehouse Subs recently lost a trademark infringement suit it filed in federal court, and now may be ordered to pay almost half a million dollars worth of the defendant’s court fees.


How the Firehouse Lawsuit Started


It all began in 2008, when restaurant owner and county firefighter Heath Scurfield’s restaurant Calli Baker’s Firehouse Bar & Grill came under scrutiny by the national sub-sandwich chain. Firehouse Subs claimed that the word “firehouse” in Scurfield’s restaurant could potentially confuse customers into thinking the restaurant was part of the national chain, and that use of the word violated the sub-shops trademark.


An eight-person jury ruled unanimously in Scurfield’s favor in late August of this year. The jury also said that Firehouse Subs’ 2003 trademark application to use the word “firehouse” exclusively in the food service industry, was fraudulent.


The sandwich chain knew that many restaurants already used the word “firehouse” in their names, the jury claims. The implications may make Firehouse Subs wish it had never filed the lawsuit in the first place.


Lawsuit Ruling has Potential Disastrous Consequences for Firehouse Subs Chain


What does the fraud ruling mean for one of America’s largest sub-sandwich chains? For one thing, Firehouse Subs’ trademark will be canceled. The chain may face additional penalties from the U.S. Patent and Trademark office.


Naturally, the national chain wants a judge to set the jury’s ruling aside. Firehouse claims that the jury misunderstood the law and that there was not sufficient evidence to back up the fraud claim. If the judge declines, Firehouse will likely seek a new trial.


Firehouse Legal History


The Firehouse chain has aggressively defended its trademark, issuing 15 cease-and-desist letters and filing at least five different lawsuits in its time. Scurfield is the first to win a lawsuit against the chain.


In late August, Scurfield filed documents seeking reimbursement for $490,217.90 in lawyer fees. No damages have yet been awarded.

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