Hollywood is Suing to Shut Down Fort Worth's Talledega Nights-Inspired Breastaurant

Categories: Legal Battles

RickyBobbySportsSaloon.jpg
Ricky Bobby Sports Saloon and Restaurant
If you're feeling charitable, you might describe Ricky Bobby Sports Saloon and Restaurant, with its checkered flags and black-and-yellow stock car out front, as a loving, if unauthorized, homage to the 2006 Will Farrell/John C. Reilly film Talladega Nights. The breastaurant's parent company, strip club conglomerate Rick's Cabaret International, has never pretended otherwise, operating on the legal theory that you can't copyright a proper name.

Otherwise -- if, say, you're a movie studio still milking the film for $3.5 million per year -- you'll probably view the operation as a cynical ploy to cash in on the movie's success without paying licensing fees.

Count Columbia Pictures in the latter camp. Last week, the studio sued Rick's Caberet in federal court alleging that it's illegally profiting off the Talledega Nights brand and demanding that it stop.

See also: Rick's Cabaret, the Texas-Based Strip Club Empire, Is Entering the Breastaurant Business

Columbia calls the notion that proper names can't be trademarked "erroneous." Because of Talladega Nights' success, the name Ricky Bobby "has become uniquely identified with the Picture when used in association with NASCAR and professional motor sports." Thus, the name is protected by copyright, at least when it's paired with stock cars painted to look nearly identical to Will Ferrell's car from the film; multiple displays featuring "If you ain't first...," which happens to be the first half of Ferrell's catchphrase; and drinks like "Comin' at Ya Like a Spider Monkey," which the lawsuit describes as (an obvious reference to the Texas Ranger character's notable line from the Picture, "Chip, I'm gonna come at you like a Spider Monkey.")

Also, the scantily clad waitresses are called "Smokin' Hotties," which sounds suspiciously similar to RIcky Bobby's "Smokin' Hot Wife."

So, the fact that Ricky Bobby Sports Saloon is a shameless ripoff of Ricky Bobby the Will Ferrell character is pretty well established. The question becomes why it took so long for Columbia to sue.

The lawsuit, which demands that Rick's cut it out and turn over its profits from the restaurant, along with other damages, provides a couple of hints. One, it suggests that Rick's has plans to open additional Ricky Bobby breastaurants. Two, the lawsuit runs to an epic 82 pages, including footnotes (e.g. "As childhood friends, Ricky and Cal developed nicknames for each other, 'Shake and Bake.' They frequently quote this catchphrase in dialogue throughout the Picture, even as adults.") Prose like that doesn't write itself.

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.

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13 comments
ruddski
ruddski

So if I open a restaurant called "Tits", will Hooters sue?

JohnSmallBerries
JohnSmallBerries

First, " operating on the legal theory that you can't copyright a proper name." and then "Columbia calls the notion that proper names can't be trademarked 'erroneous.' ... Thus, the name is protected by copyright, at least when ..."


So what is it? Copyright law or trademark law? They are not the same.

Dan_Koller
Dan_Koller

Talladega or Talledega? Pick one.

lecterman
lecterman

You can't copyright proper names?


Time to unveil my concept for the 'Cole Trickle Salad Bar Emporium'

mattbs_1969
mattbs_1969

Here is hoping Kraft sues Columbia for using Shake and bake in the movie... kraftbrands. com/Shake-n-bake

Greg820
Greg820

I hope to little baby Jesus in the manger that they prevail.

dingo
dingo

Does their cobb salad include a whole rat?

oakclifftownie
oakclifftownie

Do businesses even consult their attorneys anymore ? You know " Lets Run this by the LAWYERS" before they go off spend money ?.


lsdkd
lsdkd

Why not embed the petition?

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