Hobart, Ind.-based Luke Oil adopted a new logo to symbolize its commitment to customer service, but the chain may have inadvertently replicated a logo stamped on products that are judged kosher, reported the Northwest Indiana Times.
The company is changing the logo, after an Orthodox Jewish group filed a trademark infringement suit in Hammond, Ind. federal court.
Luke Oil Vice President Tom Collins Jr. said Luke’s new “Serving U” logo could be seen as infringing on the kosher symbol, and company executives and lawyers are working with the Orthodox Union, a kosher-certification group, to settle the trademark issue and get the lawsuit dismissed.
“We’re just working towards a common ground where everyone’s happy,” Collins said.
The lawsuit accuses Luke Oil of infringing on the “OU” symbol the Orthodox Union gives to products certified as kosher. Luke’s had rolled out the symbol earlier this year as part of its “Serving U” campaign and it appears on the gas stations’ coffee and soda cups and on the company Web site uluke.com. Of 25 Luke-owned stations, four use the logo, Collins said.
Lawyers for the Orthodox Union have filed for an injunction stopping Luke from infringing on the trademark. A judge has yet to rule on that request.
While Attorney David Butler said he does not believe Luke executives are trying to pass off the company’s refreshments as kosher, he said the suit was filed because Luke executives were told Sept. 10 the logo infringes on the union’s logo, and yet the logo remains in use, which stands as a “form of consumer fraud.”
“We had several exchanges with the company and one with their lawyer telling us they were going to give us their proposal,” Butler said. “They gave us nothing, and we had no choice but to file.”
Orthodox Jewish dietary laws prohibit a host of foods, including pork and shellfish. For a food to be kosher, all ingredients must be kosher, and the food must be manufactured according to kosher rules.
According to the Orthodox Union, this complexity is what makes the “OU” brand so valuable: it gives “guidance” in the grocery aisles to millions of U.S. consumers who keep kosher, according to the lawsuit.
Collins told the Northwest Indiana Times the issue is nearly worked out. “Both parties are in agreement, and everything’s fine. Everyone’s happy,” he said.