Benihana Restaurant Hopes to Block Rapper Benny Hunna from Trademark Registration

Authors: Julia Anne Matheson, Danielle Wright Bulger

Benihana, the nation’s largest operator of teppanyaki restaurants, is fighting to prevent a Mississippi rapper from registering the trademark “Benny Hunna” for entertainment services before the judicial brand of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. See Noodle Time, Inc. v. Benny Hodge, TTAB Opposition No. 91214649.

The rapper filed an application to register his stage name BENNY HUNNA for “[e]ntertainment services in the nature of live musical performances,” but the road to registration has not come without a fight. In opposing this mark, Benihana points to over 50 years of use of its BENIHANA mark in the restaurant and franchise field, and alleges that the BENNY HUNNA mark unfairly trades upon its established and significant goodwill, and will cause dilution of its famous, Benihana™ mark. The company relies exclusively on registrations covering restaurant and food and beverage classes, as the company does not apparently own any registrations in the field of entertainment.

The rapper whose legal name is Benny Hodge, claims the BENNY HUNNA mark differs sufficiently from Benihana in sight, sound and meaning such that confusion is unlikely, and emphasizes that the mark consists of the Applicant’s birth name, Benny.

As the opposition is in its initial stages, it may be some time before the TTAB ultimately issues a ruling.


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