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Restaurant appeals denial of 'Philadelphia's Cheesesteak' trademark

You can get lots of delicious food here in Los Angeles, but one think you can't get is an authentic Philly Cheesesteak. If you're in The City of Brotherly Love, though, where should you go to get the real deal?

When it comes to something like a Philly Cheesesteak, authenticity is important because people want to feel like they're having the genuine article. That's why so many restaurants have trademarked expressions or slogans that sell them as the place to go for the "original" or best Cheesesteak.

Recently, a Philadelphia restaurant called Campo's Market at Deli, Inc. tried to trademark the phrase "Philadelphia's Cheesesteak." The application was denied Aug. 7 because it was too similar to three existing trademarks: "The Original Philadelphia Cheesesteak Co.," "Philadelphia's Cheesesteak Co.," and "Philadelphia Cheesesteak Co."

Campo's is appealing because it believes the possessive in "Philadelphia's" makes it distinct. The argument that is that Campo's Cheesesteak is "so superlative" it belongs to the whole city.

We don't know how this appeal will turn out, but we thought this story was worth covering because it shows how difficult it can be to distinguish oneself from the competition, particularly when qualities like authenticity, heritage and reputation matter. Many companies, like Campo's, turn to intellectual property protections as way to secure their branding and image. To be certain, trademarks and copyrights are not a cookie-cutter solution to every branding and image issue, but in many situations, they are effective and useful instruments. A consultation with an attorney who practice intellectual property law might help you determine if a copyright or trademark would be beneficial for you to pursue.

Source: Bloomberg Businessweek, "'Philadelphia's Cheesesteak' Trademark Ruling Challenged," Victoria Slin-Flor, Oct. 11, 2012

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