BOSTON Well-known chef Jasper White has filed a lawsuit against the parent of seafood chain Red Lobster, claiming its "Share the love" tagline is too similar to the "Food is love" slogan used in White's promotional materials.
White, who operates Jasper White's Summer Shack restaurants in Boston, Cambridge, Mass., and Uncasville, Conn., filed suit last week in Massachusetts District Court, asking that GMRI, parent of Darden Restaurants and its Red Lobster chain, cease using the "Share the love" tag in its ads. Havas' Euro RSCG Tatham Partners in Chicago introduced that line last month.
The suit said Red Lobster's tag expresses the same concept, that food equals love, as White's. White contacted Red Lobster executives shortly after seeing the spots and received a reply suggesting he contact Darden's legal department.
Darden Restaurants denied that use of the word "love" equaled copyright infringement.
"We don't think Mr. White has a monopoly on using the word 'love' in advertising slogans," said Jim DeSimone, vice president of communications at Darden in Orlando, Fla. "Nor do we think the slogans are confusing to the public."
DeSimone cited other companies using the term "love," including McDonald's, which will use "I'm lovin' it" as a global brand themeline in upcoming ads.
He also pointed out that the restaurant chain trademarked the slogan "Red Lobster for the seafood lover in you" in 1979. "We know people love seafood. We don't think that is an original thought by Mr. White. Nor is using the word 'love,'" he said. "Mr. White can pursue his day in court. And we'll continue to use this slogan."
White could not be reached for comment.