Battle of the Chip Dip -- "Bob Armstrong Dip" Lawsuit

Matt's El Rancho Bob Armstrong Dip Trademark Infringement Lawsuit

Matt’s El Rancho (“Matt’s”), a Tex-Mex restaurant located in Austin, filed suit in late June against Horseshoe Hill Cowboy Café (“Horseshoe”) in Fort Worth, and its founder, Grady Spears, for infringing its BOB ARMSTRONG DIP trademark (Reg. No. 5,135,570). 

Is Bob Armstrong Dip Trademarkable?

In its complaint, Matt’s notes that it has offered its infamous Bob Armstrong Dip appetizer since 1986. The appetizer was created by Matt’s and given the name “Bob Amstrong” after the Texas politician, Robert Landis Armstrong, who allegedly frequented the restaurant and actually asked the chef to make an appetizer that was not originally on the menu. The chef, Matt Jr., created the Bob Armstrong Dip for Armstrong, but the item became a hit and has appeared as a signature menu item ever since. Given the item’s success, Matt’s acquired a registration for BOB ARMSTRONG DIP with a date of first use in November of 1986 and a registration date of February 7, 2017. 

Matt’s El Rancho Files Trademark Infringement Suit

According to Matt’s, in February of 2018, the restaurant discovered that Horseshoe was using the trademark on its menu. In March, counsel for Matt’s sent a cease-and-desist letter to Horseshoe noting Matt’s registered mark and requesting for Horseshoe to stop using the mark. After a verbal agreement over the phone between counsel for Matt’s and Spears that Horseshoe would cease using the mark, Matt’s alleges that Horseshoe continued to use the mark on its menu. 

After sending follow-up letters and e-mails, Matt’s ultimately decided to file suit against Horseshoe and Spears for infringement of the BOB ARMSTRONG mark. 

According to the lawsuit, Matt’s seeks the following from the defendants:

  1. enter judgment for Matt’s El Rancho on all of its claims;

  2. preliminarily and permanently enjoin Defendants from using the mark BOB ARMSTRONG DIP and any other confusingly similar marks;

  3. award Matt’s El Rancho all monetary remedies to which it is entitled under federal and Texas law, including all profits realized by Defendants (adjusted upward as the Court deems just), all damages (trebled) sustained by Matt’s El Rancho, exemplary damages, and nominal damages;

  4. order the seizure and destruction of all items and materials in Defendants’ possession, custody, or control that use the mark BOB ARMSTRONG DIP or any other confusingly similar mark;

  5. award Matt’s El Rancho its costs and reasonable attorney’s fees; and

  6. award any other relief the Court deems just and proper.

Click to access the Bob Armstrong Dip lawsuit and BOB ARMSTRONG DIP trademark registration.

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