Buc-ee’s vs. Choke Canyon: Battle of the Roadside Mascots

BUC-EE’S VS. CHOKE CANYON: BATTLE OF THE ROADSIDE MASCOTS The jury trial began yesterday in a federal lawsuit Buc-ee’s filed 3 years ago against Choke Canyon, a rival, San Antonio rest-stop chain with a cartoon alligator mascot Buc-ee’s claims is too similar to its own trademark grinning beaver. Buc-ee’s’s lawyer Tracy Richardson (who’s also on the legal team for the chain’s other ongoing infringement suit against Nebraska-based Bucky’s), reports the Chronicle’s Gabrielle Banks, kicked things off with a digital slideshow that chronicled the evolution of Choke Canyon’s gator species over time: “‘They put a human hat on the alligator,’ he said, ‘they opened his mouth. Then they made him stand, which — I’ve never seen an alligator stand.'” Couple that with the animals’ big eyes, red tongue, yellow background, and associated aquatic environs — said Richardson — and the likeness is confusing. (“You’re driving down the road at 80 miles per hour and you see a sign,” he said. “Did you really see what the logo was?”) Also at issue: Choke Canyon’s use of Buc-ee’s-like design elements in its stores, including a vaguely Alamo-like parapet front, stone siding, khaki-colored paint, and oversized bathrooms. (“We have large, clean bathrooms,” said Choke Canyon’s lawyer. “The last time I looked that’s not illegal.”) The jurors will be asked to decide “whether Choke Canyon set out to or actually did confuse customers with the overlap.” [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Logos: U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas

21 Comment

  • Too similar? Ridiculous.

  • They can’t be serious. All animals do NOT look alike.

  • Knapp Chevy had the alligator a long time ago.

  • Beaver? Alligator? I can’t tell them apart!!

  • Buc-ees is right. Last time I bent down to pet what I thought was a cute beaver in a trucker hat, I almost got my arm bit off! Beavers and alligators are almost indistinguishable.

  • Somebody is getting a little too big for his beaver britches.

  • Choke canyon isn’t even a service station. its a bbq joint. why not go after Chuck E Cheese!

  • I fail to see the point of Buccee’s legal strategy here unless their goal is to create billable hours for their attorneys.

    Whatever their intent, this reeks of desperation, paranoia or both. Why not just compete on quality and value as they’ve presumably been doing all along. I already knew about Buc-ee’s, today I learned of Choke Canyon. Maybe I’ll stop in one to check it out for myself the next time I’m making a pit stop.

    With any luck and so long as I’m wearing my eyeglasses, I’m sure I’ll be able to discern the difference.

  • This is ridiculous. An Alligator looks nothing like a Beaver. I hope Choke Canyon sues them back for defamation. This is the most ludicrous lawsuit ever. Bucky’s is afraid of this? The own their market. All they’ve done is make themselves looks like bully’s and given this place nobody has heard of free press. I plan to stop at Choke Canyon and check the place out. I like Fried Alligator.

  • How did this absurd lawsuit ever make it to the trial stage? And a federal jury trial, no less.

  • I heard about this on the radio… now that I see it in person how RIDICULOUS the Buc-ees lawsuit is.

  • Choke need only comment that there are more major differences compared to any similarities however major or minor:
    * Typefaces: actual typeface, sans serif versus serif
    * Type layout: lateral-below, circuitous
    * Headwear: very prominent red cap with ear cutouts versus smaller, tan, and wide-brimmed
    * Border: single-rule versus over, and under double marquis (and gator’s elbow extends over it)
    * Pose: teeth versus tongue, bust-only versus chest, arm and pointed hand
    * Eyes: big and looking to 2 o’clock versus small and breaking the 4th wall
    Most that Buc-ee’s has going for them: surely the jurors at some point will need a bathroom break– just if, if, the jurors confuse Male/Female signage then….

  • Pride? Arrogance? I can’t judge that from here, but I’ve lost a LOT of respect for Buc-ee’s because of their eagerness to sue.

  • I remember years back there being job postings for an assistant general counsel type position at a company that was obviously Buc-Ee’s (from the description of the company and the location). In addition to legal work, the description also stated that the successful candidate needed to also run errands, get dry cleaning (no joke) and the like for the C-suite. Left unspoken was probably a requirement that it be a pretty young woman. So I’m not surprised that Buc-Ee’s management/owners would be a company that would file a suit like this (though I think the suit against Bucky’s likely has more merit).

  • So, no one else can use as a mascot a cute cartoon animal wearing a hat? Come to think of it, someone better alert the Disney folks that Buc-ee’s is infringing on their copywrite. They have been know to aggresively defend their intellectual property.

  • Since companies tend to be reflected in their legal strategies, I quit going to Buc-ee’s a year or so ago when it hit the news that they lost the suit trying to enforce a truly ridiculous non competition / trade secret agreement that basically made it financially impossible for an employee to quit… as if middle level convenience store managers are somehow privy to state secrets and Vulcan chess levels of strategy making. “People like clean toilets” isn’t exactly breaking news. This is just more of the same.

  • Learning about this will certainly sully my future (and pretty frequent) stops in at various Texas Buc-ee’s. Well, maybe. Their Ruben sandwich is off the chain.

  • Mike: A bit of a leap, without evidence, to suggest that being an attractive young female was part of the unwritten requirement. Not really a fair comment to make as based on your other descriptions of what they were looking for it seems pretty typical.

  • Buc’ees won. Ugh.

  • Has anyone actually read the filing of the lawsuit and the claims against the defendant? The news articles do not provide the full story from what copies of the filing I found online.
    Why all the hatred towards Buc-ee’s? They are simply protecting themselves with the law as it is written. There must have been evidence for the 12 jurors to make a decision in favor of Buc-ees.