U.S. Supreme Court sides with goats on Al Johnson’s roof

A New York attorney wanted to strip Al Johnson's Swedish Restaurant of its federal trademark
U.S. Supreme Court (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
U.S. Supreme Court (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)(WTVG)
Published: Jul. 17, 2020 at 6:00 PM CDT
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SISTER BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Al Johnson’s Swedish restaurant has been a popular attraction for anyone traveling to Door County for its grass-covered roof and its herd of grass trimmers.

But a lawsuit by a New York attorney against Al Johnson’s sought to cancel the “Goats on a roof of grass” trademark owned by the well-known restaurant in Sister Bay.

That years-long petition has been denied by the U.S. Supreme Court. The court’s decision not to hear the case has ended the debate.

The lawsuit has been trying to strip the restaurant of its trademark since 2011. Attorney Todd Bank claimed it was demeaning to goats.

A federal circuit court ruled Bank didn’t have any standing to bring the lawsuit, since he didn’t have a legitimate commercial interest, such as a competing trademark, and he didn’t suffer any damages from the claimed “disparaging remarks” about goats.

That court also ordered Bank to pay costs and attorneys fees to Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant for bringing a frivolous lawsuit, pointing out that Bank petitioned the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board three times -- which were all dismissed for lack of standing -- then appealed to federal court making the same arguments.

With the Supreme Court’s decision, the “goats on a roof of grass” will continue to graze.

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