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Detroit restaurant chain prevails in preliminary ruling on Shake Shack’s trademark bid

Chicken Shack will remain a Metro Detroit brand associated with Berkley-based Sobeck Enterprises Inc. after a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office official refused an April application for New York-based Shake Shack Inc. to trademark the phrase.

Shake Shack (NYSE: SHAK), the fast-growing burger and milkshake chain that raised $105 million at a January IPO, intended to identify the new trademark with chicken sandwiches, according to an April 20 application by SSE IP, part of Shake Shack’s parent company.

Sobeck and Chicken Shack are not part of that application review, but the trademark examiner this month found Shake Shack’s proposal is too closely related to a trademark for Chicken Shack, which has more than 20 restaurants.

“(T)he evidence of record shows that the goods and services at issue are related because the (Sobeck company) sell chicken and/or chicken sandwiches at their respective restaurants,” the Aug. 14 action from trademark examining attorney John Gartner states.

“Since the marks are similar and the goods and services are related, there is a likelihood of confusion as to the source of (Shake Shack)’s goods. Therefore, (the proposed) mark is not entitled to registration.”

Shake Shack has six months to respond to the determination, or the trademark request is considered abandoned. The company and its IP attorney, Robin Silverman of Golenbock Eiseman Assor Bell & Peskoe LLP in New York, did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday.

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