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September 2, 2010

Bats BBQ fights Batman maker over trademark rights

The owners of BATS BBQ, a Rock Hill barbecue restaurant, were told to cease-and-desist when they tried to register their trademark because DC Comics, the holder of the Batman trademark, objected.

Two Clover High School graduates have a message for the Caped Crusader: Back off, the BATS BBQ name is ours - literally.

BATS is an acronym for Beau and Travis' restaurant. The Broussard brothers have been selling barbeque from their location off Mount Gallant Road since November.

The name and the logo were designed on the Broussard family computer in Fort Mill. Their dad, Mike, said they went through several drawings and type styles before settling on the red logo featuring a flying bat.

"Our bat is not their bat," said Mike Broussard on Tuesday.

The Broussards applied to register their trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office last spring.

That's when DC Comics, holder of the Batman trademark, objected, sending a cease-and-desist letter to the Broussards.

Companies such as DC Comics send out such letters to protect their trademarks and intellectual property. Often, small businesses such as BATS BBQ will make changes to their name, rather than start what can be a costly legal fight.

The Broussards decided to fight.

"Sometimes you just can't walk away," said Mike Broussard. "Sometimes you just have to do it."

Erick Pelton, an attorney who specializes in trademark cases, is representing the Broussards before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board of the U.S. Patent and Trademark office.

Pelton said Wednesday the Broussards have a good case because other businesses have bats in their logos and because the restaurant does not have a movie or comic-book theme.

Trademark decisions are made, he said, on the similarity of logos and words and the similarity of goods and services.

DC Comics officials could not reached for comment.

Beau Broussard, 25, said he has been a Batman fan since childhood. He holds an associate degree in filmmaking. Travis Broussard, 23, has an associate degree in culinary arts from Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte. Their attentions are focused on the restaurant, which has struggled somewhat this summer. They have found a loyal customer base, though.

The Broussards are originally from South Louisiana near Thibodeaux. Transplant Louisianans in the area have found the restaurant, Beau Broussard, said, perhaps drawn by the tangy sauce, aptly named Cajun Sweet Original Sauce.

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