Trademark Office Doesn’t See Difference Between A Philadelphia Cheesesteak And “Philadelphia’s Cheesesteak”

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Just about every pizza place, diner, deli and sandwich shop here in Philadelphia will make you a cheesesteak, and while many claim to make the city’s best, only one has actually tried — unsuccessfully thus far — to trademark the phrase “Philadelphia’s Cheesesteak.”

Campo’s Deli at Market has been using that phrase for a few years now and had hope to plant the little “TM” on it for a planned expansion to cities other than Philadelphia, but the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has denied the eatery’s attempts to trademark the words. Thus, Campo’s has asked a federal court to overturn that rejection.

In terms usually reserved for commercials, the lawsuit declares that the Campo’s cheesesteak is “so superlative” and “gloriously gluttonous” that it deserves be called “Philadelphia’s Cheesesteak.”

“It will help them franchise,” Campo’s lawyer tells the Philadelphia Daily News. “If we want to be the sterling benchmark for the Philadelphia cheesesteak, we need that mark.”

The restaurant tried to explain that it doesn’t want to own the phrase “Philadelphia Cheesesteak,” as that is just a generic term, but a trademark appeals board recently shut down their argument, saying that the phrase is mainly “geographically descriptive,” and pointing out that trademarks already exist for Philadelphia’s Cheesesteak Co., Philadelphia Cheesesteak Co. and the Original Philadelphia Cheesesteak Co.

But those trademarks refer to a company that sells wholesale sliced ribeye, whereas the Campo’s trademark application was for a phrase describing a specific sandwich.

Now, I’m no lawyer, but I think this could all be settled by allowing me to sample/gorge on a cheesesteak from every restaurant in Philadelphia, and I will then bestow upon the best the title of Philadelphia’s Cheesesteak, along with a sash and tiara. Just an idea I had…

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