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Chicken Licken’s feathers ruffled as Plettenberg Bay restaurant outsmarts its ‘Soul Kitchen’ trademark

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A Plettenberg Bay restaurant has outfoxed local food franchise Chicken Licken in a seven-month legal battle over the latter’s trademarking of the term “Soul Kitchen”.

Chicken Licken got its feathers in a fluff over a Plettenberg Bay restaurant previously called ’East Coast Soul Kitchen’. Picture: Nhlanhla Phillips/African News Agency (ANA)

A PLETTENBERG Bay restaurant has outsmarted one of SA’s largest food franchise, Chicken Licken, in a seven-month legal battle over the latter’s trademarking of the term “Soul Kitchen.”

Golden Fried Chicken (Pty) Ltd, which owns Chicken Licken, has a number of trademark registrations in the foodstuffs and food-service classes of the trademark “Soul” and other trademarks incorporating the mark Soul.

These trademarks include Soulslaw, Soul’d out, Soul doctor, Soul man, Soul mates, Soul fire and Soul food.

The case, heard at the Western Cape High Court, goes back to July 2021 when Chicken Licken’s attorney, Ronald Wheeldon, wrote to the Plettenberg Bay restaurant to tell it that by trading as “East Coast Soul Kitchen”, it had infringed the trademarks and demanded that it change its name.

Wheedon told the restaurant that should it not stop using the name, Chicken Licken would take the matter to court.

In response, the restaurant’s attorney, Hardy Mills of HDRS Attorneys in Plettenberg Bay, said that his client would not desist as requested and accused Chicken Licken of malicious conduct and vexatious litigation.

After an exchange of a number of lawyers’ letters between the two parties, the matter ended up in the high court, where the restaurant stole Chicken Licken’s thunder by changing its name to “Sol Kitchen”.

It announced on its social media page: “On Monday, November 15, 2021, East Coast Soul Kitchen will become Sol Kitchen”.

Judge Patrick Gamble said that when the restaurant strategically changed its name to Sol Kitchen, the battle was effectively over.

“In the result, it cannot be said that either party has achieved substantial success in this battle and it seems to me that the most equitable decision would be to order each to bear its own costs.”

He also ordered the restaurant to remove remaining references to “East Coast Soul Kitchen” from its webpage and/or Facebook page within the week.

Ruminating on the “soul” question, Judge Gamble said the case had thrown up many questions including whether the fast food giant’s outlets are known as Chicken Licken’s “Soul Kitchen”?

Or whether the “Soul Kitchen” is the place where its golden fried chicken is prepared for sale at such a Chicken Licken outlet?

He wondered whether Chicken Licken had perhaps registered the trademark defensively, mindful of the fact that some day in the future it might expand its business into the preparation and sale of food which is generically described as soul food.

“This court is none the wiser and is left to speculate as to the true nature and origin of soul food.

“Is it food which has its roots in the eponymous Afro-American music genre of the 1960’s and 1970’s pioneered by such favourites as James Brown and Aretha Franklin? Or is it wholesome food which is perhaps intended to assuage the soul of a hungry or troubled diner?”

Cape Argus

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