There’s a battle raging in Connecticut, and while it might be over chicken nuggets, it’s no laughing matter.
Here’s the story: Old Greenwich-based Garden Catering, which has eight locations across the area, is pretty well-known for its chicken nuggets, sandwiches, fries, and breakfast items, most of which are served in a pint-sized insulated bag (these are mostly to-go places). Recently, two employees struck out on their own to open Wally’s Chicken Coop, which also happens to sell chicken nuggets and other sides in a pint-size insulated bag. They also offer a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich on a roll with chili and home fries called the Topsy; and Garden Catering is famous for virtually the same thing, but there it's called the Hotsy, after its creator, longtime counterman and chili cook Frank "Hotsy" Bertino. ,Coincidence? The court will have to decide, because Garden Catering is suing.
According to Greenwich Time, this is the third such time that Garden Catering has sued competitors over supposed theft of ideas. Even though Wally’s is 104 miles away from the Greenwich location, they claim that brothers Michael and Jeff Natale concealed their true plans, made efforts to associate themselves with Garden Catering, and poached recipes and the concept. (Ironically, Frank Bertino's son, Frank Jr., recently filed — and lost — a $3 million damage suit against Garden Catering and several other defendents, claiming that they had neglected his father's welfare in his final years.)
The Natale brothers, however, believe that they did nothing wrong. "There's no secret recipe," their attorney said. "They don't use the trademarks." He’s planning on moving to have the case dismissed next week.
In Connecticut, this case is ruffling a few feathers. It even warranted a letter to the editor of Greenwich Time, in which the writer asks, "Is it not the 'American dream' to learn enough about a business to be able to open up your own?"
For a lot of people, it also seems like the American dream to be able to sue anyone you suspect of stealing your ideas.