A Tale of Two Amys: Ice Cream Trademarks Under Dispute

A Tale of Two Amys: Ice Cream Trademarks Under Dispute

In celebration of National Ice Cream Month, the Harris County Law Library would like to spotlight an ice cream dispute involving one of our capital city’s favorite desserts. In the summer of 2013 Austin-based Amy’s Ice Creams, Inc. filed suit for trademark infringement and related claims against Amy’s Kitchen, Inc., a manufacturer of frozen vegetarian and vegan foods sold in grocery stores across the United States.

Prior to the suit Amy’s Ice Creams filed a federal trademark application for its mark on t-shirts, catering, and “restaurant services featuring: ice cream, fruit ice, candy, chocolates and beverages.” Amy’s Kitchen opposed the application, having begun its own expansion into the cold treats business with a line of “non-dairy frozen desserts.” Applications by Amy’s Kitchen to trademark its mark for cookies and candy bars were then in turn opposed by Amy’s Ice Creams. When discussions between the parties failed to bring about a resolution, Amy’s Ice Creams sued.

Anyone with doubts about the prudence of fighting a protracted legal battle over the name “Amy” will be happy to learn that both “Amy’s” eventually came to the same conclusion. In Amy's Ice Creams, Inc. v. Amy's Kitchen, Inc., 60 F.Supp.3d 738 (2014) the court, inter alia, granted Amy’s Kitchen’s motion for summary judgment on Amy’s Ice Creams’ unjust enrichment claim, denied Amy’s Kitchen’s other motions for summary judgment, and denied Amy’s Ice Creams’ motions for summary judgment. In other words, for either party to obtain relief through the courts, a full (and likely expensive) trial would be necessary. Both parties subsequently dismissed the lawsuit and Amy’s Ice Creams narrowed its food services trademark to “restaurant services featuring ice cream; catering.” It’s a winning scenario for everyone: The two companies no longer have to argue whether the name “Amy’s” is distinctive or has secondary meaning in Texas, and Texans are free to enjoy a greater variety of ice cream—both with and without dairy.