2 Towns Locked In Trademark Battle Over Pierogi Festival Name

Aug 3, 2017
Originally published on August 4, 2017 3:33 pm

A pierogi war has broken out between two communities. A suburban Chicago chamber of commerce wants the Edwardsville Pierogi Festival in Pennsylvania to drop its name like a hot potato, threatening a trademark infringement lawsuit. Lawyers for the Whiting Pierogi Fest in Whiting, Ind., recently sent a letter to the Edwardsville Hometown Committee demanding it stop using the trademarked name or pay royalties for its use.

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Now a federal case over pierogi and who can lay claim to Pierogi Fest.

(SOUNDBITE OF FESTIVAL MUSIC)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: It's a Polish dumpling. And they're filled with either different meats, cheeses. A lot of them have fruits. You have your dessert ones, which are blueberry, strawberry.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Which is the most popular one?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Potato cheddar - there's nothing better.

SHAPIRO: The Chicago suburb of Whiting, Ind., has been putting on a pierogi festival for 23 years.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And about 10 years ago, the Chamber of Commerce decided to put a legal claim on its annual pierogi party.

TOM DABERTIN: We own the trademark rights. And trademark rights are enforceable in all 50 states.

CORNISH: Tom Darrington is chairman of Pierogi Fest. Two years ago, the Pierogi Fest people sent a letter to Edwardsville, Pa., saying a pierogi festival there was infringing on their federal trademark.

SHAPIRO: Another letter was sent to Pennsylvania this year. Edwardsville stood its ground.

JACQUELINE MORAN: They are two simple words - pierogi, a food, and festival, an event.

SHAPIRO: Jacqueline Moran organizes the Pennsylvania pierogi festival.

MORAN: I really don't understand why they feel that we are a competition to them.

CORNISH: So the Edwardsville Pierogi Festival filed a lawsuit Monday against the Pierogi Fest in Whiting, Ind. Lawyer James Haggerty represents Edwardsville.

JAMES HAGGERTY: There is no consumer on planet Earth confusing these two pierogi festivals.

SHAPIRO: The only agreement between the two sides is that pierogi are delicious.

(SOUNDBITE OF MR. Z SONG, "THE BEER BARREL POLKA") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.