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Chefs Roy Choi and Daniel Patterson Sued for Trademark Infringement

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The lawsuit from healthy fast-casual concept Locali, based in LA, appears weak.

Official Logos

One California mini-chain is accusing chefs Roy Choi and Daniel Patterson of being copy cats, and has filed a trademark infringement case against them. According to a document filed with the federal court in Los Angeles, the owners of Locali — a vegan-friendly "healthy deli and market" — believe the name Choi and Patterson chose for their as-yet-unlaunched healthy fast food concept, Loco'l, is far too similar to Locali. They allege that the name could confuse customers. Except they don't seem to realize that Loco'l and Locali conjure up a different image, sound quite different, and have logos that look nothing alike. The suit complains that "in an era where consumers of food use Google searches and smartphone applications to find the restaurant they want, it is imperative that competitors in the same markets, offering the same services not use names that sound very similar."

The suit accuses the chefs of having "intentionally chosen to copy" the Locali concept.

Speaking anonymously, a source familiar with the case says that Patterson's wife, who is a lawyer specializing in business law, applied for the trademark back in August. Did Patterson and Choi know that the tongue-in-cheek name they picked might ruffle some feathers? Or were they simply trying to protect their unique idea?

The owners of Locali also believe Loco'l's concept is a direct rip-off of theirs. The suit accuses the chefs of having "intentionally chosen to copy" the Locali concept after supposedly studying Locali. Locali claims its idea "to make it possible for the consumer from the local community to get in and out quick, and yet, not resort to junk food, but instead receive healthy food at an affordable price" is totally unique. Apparently they haven't heard of Subway.

Plus, the two concepts differ in many other ways (style of food, style of service, price point), making this feel like one big attention-seeking move. Choi revealed in an interview that a "cornerstone" of Loco'l is that they want to make a "99 cent burger" versus Locali's mission to be a "healthy deli and market." Most importantly, menu items at Loco'l "will not exceed a $6 dollar price point" so that it can compete with national fast food chains. Locali's menu items, on the other hand, easily top $10.

Loco'l might be a crazy idea, but the owners of Locali might just be delusion'l.