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Through The Walking Dead, creator Robert Kirkman has become a huge success in the entertainment industry, carving a nice niche for himself first in comics and then in television (and perhaps one day movies). Though Kirkman may one day strike out in the culinary world, he definitely hasn’t done it at this point, and yet there is a restaurant being planned for a New Jersey location under the name The Walking Dead. As you might imagine, this has resulted in a legal battle between Kirkman and the would-be restauranteurs over the title.
Kirkman’s legal team apparently put the lawsuit in motion, and the response from the defendants (Anna Theodorou, Philip Theodorou, Steven Theodorou and Mohamed Elkady) is one in which submission isn’t mentioned. (Total Rick Grimes move.) Their argument is that The Walking Dead as a name is only descriptive and not distinctive, and that it lacks a secondary meaning. They also say that “walking dead” has been in use throughout the horror genre for many decades, as well as other areas of our culture, with Boris Karloff’s 1936 film The Walking Dead being an obvious example. It’s also pointed out that Kirkman had considered calling his comic book Night of the Living Dead after the classic George Romero flick, and then this little not-so-slightly veiled threat entered the legal brief.
Plaintiff never took into consideration the fact that what happened to Mr. Romero, could very easily happen to him.
This mansion you got sure is nice there, Mr. Kirkman. Sure would be a shame if something happened to it, you know? Something like [EXPLOSIONS].
Kirkman didn’t hold back, according to THR. His lawyers responded by dismissing many of those other “walking dead” uses by pointing out no trademarks were in question in those cases. As well, Kirkman feels that the endless line of non-comic and non-TV Walking Dead merchandise, from the video games to the figurines to toys to clocks to clothing to everything else, definitely asserts the validity of his Walking Dead trademark as representing much more than what the defendants are implying.
The Walking Dead restaurant in question would reportedly be focused on healthy Greek food, so it’s hard to see how the name’s food significance is so important that these people would want to fight so hard to keep it. The obvious, though possibly not correct, assumption is that the name is a way to share the spotlight with an established pop culture phenomenon, so unless that can be proven in full, I can’t imagine this strange little lawsuit is going to go badly for Robert Kirkman & Co.. Maybe those people could change the name of their eatery to something like Rick and Carl’s Spaghetti Tuesdays.
Whether or not it shares its name with a restaurant, tire repair shop or lemonade stand, The Walking Dead will return to AMC with a batch of new characters in October for Season 7. In the meantime, check out everything else premiering in the next few months, check out our summer TV schedule.