We reported a couple months ago that some entrepreneurs wanted to open a Greek restaurant in New Jersey and name it, of all things, “The Walking Dead.” Robert Kirkman didn’t think so and filed a lawsuit. Now defendants Philip Theodorou, Steven Theodorou, Anna Theodorou and Mohamed Elkady have counter-sued, saying that they’re perfectly justified to give an eatery completely unrelated to zombies this weird name — because they claim “Walking Dead” is too generic a term to trademark.
This claim turns the Theodorous into hypocrites because they’ve tried to trademark phrases that became popular themselves. In the past they’ve tried to claim ownership of “No Sleep Til Brooklyn” and “Make America Great Again” (why they’d want THAT guy’s potential wrath I have no clue).
But in their defense against Kirkman, they point to the phrase “Walking Dead” being in use for decades prior to its existence as the title of a comic book or TV series, stretching back to a 1938 Boris Karloff movie called “The Walking Dead.” Through this useage they insist the Walking Dead “has not acquired distinctiveness through secondary meaning” and that Rob cannot “assume ‘all exclusive rights to a trademark title.'”
Kirkman has responded to this argument with the claim that this is the first time “Walking Dead” has been used as a trademark and is therefore defendable. Time will tell what the courts have to say. But there is no real reason to create an establishment for Greek salads and name it “The Walking Dead” outside of the existence of a Top 10 TV series.