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Facebook/SpongBob SquarePants

A real-life version of a fictional fast food burger restaurant featured in Nickelodeon cartoon SpongeBob SquarePants could be in jeopardy. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Nickelodeon's parent company, Viacom, filed a trademark infringement lawsuit this week against Houston-based IJR Capital Investments for allegedly operating a restaurant called The Krusty Krab.

Known as the place where SpongeBob works as a naïve, devoted fry cook, The Krusty Krab seems ripe for a Bubba Gump-esque franchise. However, Viacom has yet to capitalize on this potential. Still, the company leaves open the possibility in its filing, stating that given its "extensive use of the 'Krusty Krab' mark in a wide variety of trade channels — and the fact that the 'Krusty Krab' is a restaurant in the SpongeBob universe — it is within the zone of natural expansion of Viacom business to operate in restaurant services." The lawsuit further argues that IJR's attempts to register Krusty Krab trademarks qualifies as infringement due to its "identical in appearance and sound," which would likely lead to "confusion as to the source of the Infringing Mark and Defendant's corresponding services."

In response to inquiries by Hollywood Reporter, attorneys for the defendants deny any infringement, adding that their client "declines to cease use." While a U.S. Krusty Krab outpost seems unlikely to see full realization anytime soon, visitors traveling to the Middle East can check out a Palestinian homage to the Krabby Patty slingin' undersea eatery built by a company called Salata Burgers — at least until Viacom decides to take them to court.

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