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Buc-Ee’s Wins Battle against Choke Canyon

A federal jury Tuesday ended a trademark battle between two titans of the Texas travel-stop industry, finding that a grinning green gator had unlawfully invaded a toothy beaver’s turf. A Houston jury has sided with Buc-ee’s Ltd., a local company that operates popular gas stations and convenience stores, in a dispute over a competitor’s logo.

The jury determined after six hours of deliberation that Choke Canyon’s finger-licking alligator logo violated state and federal trademark law, infringing on the already established Buc-ee’s beaver that’s a stand-in for the popular chain of travel centers. The Buc-ee’s legal team also noted several similarities between the two companies’ stores and their offerings.

The jury was tasked with evaluating the strength of Buc-ee’s logo, the logos’ and stores’ similarities, and whether Choke Canyon intended to or actually did confuse customers, per the Chronicle.

A trial lawyer for Buc-ee’s, which is headquartered in Lake Jackson, told jurors in a heavily branded multimedia presentation that the popular gas stop chain spent “blood, sweat and tears” building its reputation and wanted Choke Canyon to stop “riding its coattails” with a logo that confuses highway travelers into pulling off at a rival business.

During one week of testimony, the jury was asked to look at how the Choke Canyon logo evolved over time, standing upright in later versions and becoming more cartoonish, with a bright red tongue. Some versions of the logo they saw had the wording from around the alligator removed. They looked at photographs of the bathroom areas and compared T-shirts from the two stores.

The panel of three women and nine men ultimately found Choke Canyon liable on each of four counts including trademark infringement and trademark dilution. The Houston Chronicle reports U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison has asked lawyers for both companies to try to come up with wording for an injunction to deal with Choke Canyon’s materials that jurors found were improper.

Damages in the case remain pending.

Source: San Antonio Express News

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