Little Caesar’s Brings Trademark Suit Against Franchisees

Late last week, Little Caesar’s Enterprises Inc. and LC Trademarks Inc. filed a trademark complaint against the Gurmoh Inc., ABW Foods LLC., and the respective individuals owning and operating these corporations, accusing the defendants (Gurmoh and ABW Foods) of breach of contract, trademark infringement, and trade dress infringement.

Little Caesar’s, according to the complaint, terminated its franchise agreements with the defendants due to their failure to file multiple contractually mandated financial statements to Little Caesar. However, the defendants allegedly continue to make use of Little Caesar’s trademarks, trade name, and trade dress for their businesses; thus, violating US.C. 1114. Little Caesar’s seeks injunctive, monetary, and other relief against the defendants.

Little Caesar’s says it creates franchises with independent businesspeople to operate Little Caesar’s restaurants throughout the country; franchisees are licensed to use the Little Caesar’s trade name, trademarks, and service marks to operate under Little Caesar’s Enterprises Inc. LC Trademarks Inc. is the owner of the trademark, trade name, and service mark of “Little Caesar’s.”

Gurmoh owned five Little Caesar’s franchises located in and around Seattle, Washington; two of which, ABW Foods operated. Gurmoh, and consequently, ABW Foods, was licensed to use Little Caesar’s trademarks, trade name, and business system in accordance with the terms of their franchise agreements with Little Caesar’s, the complaint said.

Gurmoh agreed to provide financial statements to Little Caesar’s, and agreed that failure to comply with these terms would constitute a default under the agreements and that Little Caesar’s had the right to terminate the agreements. Gurmoh also agreed that, were its franchise agreements terminated, it would immediately cease operation of the franchised restaurants and would not represent itself as a present or former franchisee of Little Caesar’s.

In early 2020, Gurmoh allegedly failed to submit its financial statements for the final quarter of 2019; and then failed to submit any quarterly financial statements for 2020. On June 7, 2021, Little Caesar’s terminated Gurmoh’s franchise agreement.

The complaint alleges Gurmoh continues to operate its franchises (which are using the Little Caesar’s trademark, trade name, service mark, trade dress, and business system) in violation of its post-termination agreement, and that Gurmoh’s actions have caused and continue to cause monetary damage and reputable harm to Little Caesar’s.

Little Caesar’s is represented by Miller Canfield.

Little Caesar’s Brings Trademark Suit Against Franchisees