Chipotle, Sweetgreen Avoid Copyright Lawsuit

Photo credit: Tony Webster/Flickr

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This could go down as one of the most piquant legal clashes in corporate history.

Chipotle filed a lawsuit against Sweetgreen over an alleged trademark infringement on one of the salad slinger’s latest menu items: the “Chipotle Chicken Burrito Bowl.”

The Food Court of Law

Most customers expect some combination of rice, beans, proteins, veggies, and — if they’re splurging — a side of guacamole when they’re ordering at Chipotle. Sweetgreen, on the other hand, was served a cease-and-desist from the fast carne king’s legal department on Tuesday after introducing the warm salad menu item last week.

Despite its likely popularity among your office cohort, Sweetgreen, with a market value of just $821 million, remains a pretty small pea compared to Chipotle’s $46 billion empire (after all, salads don’t exactly cross-appeal to city commuters, hungover college students, and calorie-starved high school athletes the way an overstuffed burrito does). Perhaps that explained why the salad chain wilted faster than baby spinach when faced with a spicy legal complaint:

  • On Thursday, Sweetgreen opted to rename the salad the “Chicken + Chipotle Pepper Bowl,” prompting the two sides to quickly resolve the lawsuit.
  • “We are pleased that Sweetgreen has chosen to amend their materials in a manner that protects our trademarks and intellectual property,” Chipotle’s Chief Corporate Affairs Officer Laurie Schalow told Bloomberg.

Happy Holidays: The timing of the legal showdown — and Sweetgreen’s new menu item rollout — is no coincidence. Thursday marked National Burrito Day, prompting both chains to offer a bevy of promotions, with Sweetgreen selling its newly renamed bowl for 50% off to most customers. Though we might suggest celebrating the occasion by patronizing your local taco truck.