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The Beaver Beats the Alligator

Buc-ee’s prevails in trademark infringement case against Choke Canyon

HOUSTON -- Retailer Buc-ee's Ltd. has won its legal dispute with Choke Canyon Travel Center over the competing convenience-store chain’s logo, merchandise and business methods, according to an Associated Press report.

Lake Jackson, Texas-based Buc-ee’s filed the lawsuit in December 2015 against owner Amjad Panjwani, as well as Shepherd Retail Inc. and Harlow Food Inc., the owner-operators of Choke Canyon Travel Centers and Choke Canyon Bar-B-Q in Atascosa, Texas.

Buc-ee’s has more than 30 convenience stores in Texas. The chain, which sports a beaver mascot, is known for its large stores, broad merchandise mix, clean restrooms and high-volume fueling, as well as its billboards. It is No. 192 on CSP’s2017 Top 202 ranking of c-store chains by number of company-operated retail locations.

Buc-ee’s attorneys argued that Choke Canyon’s alligator in a yellow circle was too similar to Buc-ee’s beaver in a yellow circle. The jury found that San Antonio-based Choke Canyon’s alligator logo violated state and federal trademark law by infringing on the pre-established logo of Buc-ee’s, said the report.

U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison asked the lawyers for both sides to meet regarding how to deal with the trademark violations, the newspaper said. Choke Canyon’s lawyer said any similarity was unintentional and that a New Zealand designer who did not know about Buc-ee’s created the alligator logo.

Buc-ee’s legal team also noted similarities between the two companies’ stores and their offerings. The team argued that the infringement extends to the shape and general appearance of its retail outlets, including the decor, the menu and other features reflecting on the chain’s overall image that make its stores “immediately identifiable and unique.”

Buc-ee’s has successfully sued other retailers with logos that it deemed similar to its own, including Frio River Grocery’s beaver logo and Chick’s chicken logo.

In March 2017, Buc-ee’s sued Buchanan Energy, which operates 80 c-stores under the Bucky’s brand, which was expanding into Texas. Buc-ee's argued that the Bucky's name is too similar to its own to operate in overlapping markets. The case is pending.

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