Viacom Sues Rusty Krab in Houston
The Rusty Krab is a restaurant located in downtown Houston. It is a restaurant and bar that serves tropical cocktails and food based on the SpongeBob SquarePants cartoon series. Viacom, the parent company of Nickelodeon, has filed a lawsuit against the pop-up restaurant, accusing it of copyright infringement. Rusty Krab Houston
Viacom owns the popular Nickelodeon show, and the rights to the characters, trademarks, and images. Rusty Krab is accused of using SpongeBob's brand name, including "I'm Ready", the words used by SpongeBob in the cartoon. Moreover, Viacom alleges that the menu of drinks at the Rusty Krab infringes upon the trademarks.
Viacom claims that Kefi HTX, the owner of The Rusty Krab in downtown Houston, violated licensing guidelines. As a result, Viacom sent a cease and desist letter to the restaurant in May of 2021. Despite this, the pop-up has yet to respond. In the meantime, Viacom is suing for at least $350,000 in reputational damages and a 10 percent royalty fee on any profits made from the pop-up sales.
One of the biggest issues in the dispute is the use of the Rusty Krab logo, which is similar to the logo of the Krusty Krab. Moreover, Rusty Krab uses the phrase "I'm Ready" on its website, and even employees wore SpongeBob costumes when they worked. Those are all signs of a blatant rip-off of the Krusty Krab, which is featured in the show.
Viacom also wants the restaurant to pay a $250,000 royalty, and to transfer all of its assets to them. Viacom owns several associated trademarks and has officially branded merchandise from the SpongeBob SquarePants television show. This includes re-creations of the cartoon's characters and details. Moreover, Viacom has over 400 related trademarks.
Viacom has previously sued restaurants in the Houston area. This is not the first time that it has come down against a SpongeBob pop-up restaurant. Viacom's lawyers argue that the Rusty Krab pop-up is not a separate entity from the cartoon, but instead a parody that was not intended to confuse consumers.
The Rusty Krab Experience in downtown Houston is an interactive pop-up, and it has been extending its hours on several occasions since the pop-up began to garner popularity. Unfortunately, Viacom has filed a federal lawsuit against the pop-up, claiming that the bar's owners are violating its licensing policy. Fortunately, Viacom has won an injunction against the pop-up, and the bar should not be operating any longer.
The Rusty Krab bar and restaurant is a 21-and-older establishment that offers a tropical atmosphere, good food, and affordable prices. Fans of the popular Nickelodeon cartoon can enjoy a tasty pizza, corriente fish, and tropical cocktails. If you are a SpongeBob fan, it is definitely worth a visit.
According to Viacom's attorneys, the Rusty Krab pop-up violated its licensing policies by using the SpongeBob SquarePants trademarks in its menu, on its website, and on its social media pages. Moreover, the restaurant is advertising itself as a SpongeBob SquarePants pop-up.