Caprine Court Case: Suing over Goats on the Roof

Josh Bourne ⬥ 21 September

One summer when I was growing up in Wisconsin, my parents took my sisters and me to Door County, the peninsula that juts out into Lake Michigan, just north of Green Bay.  It’s a popular vacation spot, sort of like Cape Cod for Midwesterners.  In Door County there is a town called Sister Bay, which is the home of Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant and Butik, a restaurant known for more than just its Swedish meatballs.  Al Johnson’s has a grass roof where live goats graze all day long.  Take a look:

The goat-studded roof is such a key part of the Al Johnson’s experience that the owners have trademarked the scenario.  Also, in addition to the domain name, the restaurant also owns, which points to the restaurant home page.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Al Johnson’s has sued other businesses for copying their shtick, including the Tiger Mountain Market in Rabun County, Georgia.  The Tiger Mountain Market puts goats on its roof as well, and owns the domain name  Al Johnson’s sued under the Lanham Act, federal legislation that protects trademarks in the United States.

The owner of Tiger Mountain Market, Danny Benson, ended up paying Al Johnsnon’s a fee for the right to use goats on its roof as a marketing tool.  But in terms of online marketing, Benson may have won out slightly: when searching for the term “goats on the roof,” Tiger Mountain Market outranks Al Johnson’s on the results page in Google and Bing

Tags: Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant, Bing, Butik, Danny Benson, domain names, Door County, Google, Lanham Act, marketing, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Sister Bay, Tiger Mountain Market, trademark protection, Wisconsin

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