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New Jersey Turnpike Authority sues over Florida pizza shop logo

boardwalk_pizza2.jpg

July 23, 2014: This image taken from a lawsuit filed in federal court by the NJ Turnpike Authority shows logos being used by a Florida company that the turnpike authority has taken to court. At left is the trademark of the Garden State Parkway, which is suing the Jersey Boardwalk Pizza Co. over its logos. (AP)

The New Jersey Turnpike Authority wants a Florida pizza shop to pay a big toll for using a logo similar to the Garden State Parkway's green and yellow signs.

The agency sued Jersey Boardwalk Pizza Tuesday in federal court over the logo it uses for its two pizza shops and on merchandise sold online. It said in the suit that the company is trying to trade upon the fame of the Garden State Parkway logo to attract customers and potential franchisees.

JoyAnn Kenny, a lawyer with the Red Bank-based firm of Marks & Klein LLP, which represents the company, defended its use of the logo in a letter to turnpike authority lawyers included in the suit. She wrote that there's no way anyone would confuse a highway and a pizza place 1,300 miles away.

"Given the very distinct difference in the goods and services offered by our respective clients (yours being a governmental agency providing highway maintenance and travel related services exclusively in the state of New Jersey — ours being a franchisor of pizza restaurants providing the opportunity to provide delicious pizza and Italian food to patrons of its licensed restaurants), there is no plausible likelihood of confusion," she wrote.

The turnpike authority sued over two logos, one used by the pizza business and one by a franchising business it owns. Kenny said that logo for the restaurants was approved by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and has been used since April 2011.

New Jersey says that "there is no question" that the logos "were directly copied and appropriated from Plaintiff's famous Garden State Parkway Logo." It asked a judge to require the company to stop using the logos and to destroy any merchandise that includes it.

It calls the Garden State Parkway one of the most iconic and well known highways in the country. Its logo includes a green map of the state with a line showing the highway on a yellow background with the words "Garden State Parkway" written in yellow on a green background.

Jersey Boardwalk Pizza also includes a green map of the state and its title written in yellow on a green background.

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