KFC Corporation v. Marion-Kay Company, Inc.
620 F.Supp. 1160, Web 1985 U.S. Dist. Lexis 14766
The Kentucky Fried Chicken Corporation (KFC) is the franchisor of KFC restaurants. KFC’s registered trademarks and service marks include “Kentucky Fried Chicken,” “It’s Finger Lickin’ Good,” and the portrait of Colonel Harlan Sanders. KFC grants licenses to its franchisees to use these marks in connection with the preparations and sale of “Original Recipe Kentucky Fried Chicken.” Original Recipe Kentucky Fried Chicken, which is sold only by KFC franchisees, is prepared by a special cooking process featuring the use of a secret recipe seasoning known as “KFC Seasoning.” This blend of seasoning was developed by KFC’s founder, Colonel Harlan Sanders. As a condition of each franchise agreement, KFC requires that its franchisees use only KFC Seasoning in connection with the preparation and sale of Kentucky Fried Chicken. To make the seasoning, which is a trade secret, KFC has entered into contracts with two spice blenders, the John W. Sexton Company, Inc. (Sexton), and Strange Company (Strange). Each company blends about one half of the KFC Seasoning, with neither having knowledge of the complete formulation, and both entered into secrecy agreements to maintain confidentiality of their formulations. After the seasoning is blended by Sexton and Strange, it is mixed together and sold directly to all KFC franchisees. KFC does not receive a royalty or any other economic benefit for its sale. KFC’s relationship with Sexton and Strange has existed for more than 25 years; no other companies are licensed to blend the seasoning. Marion-Kay Company, Inc. (Marion-Kay) was a spice blender engaged in the manufacture of chicken seasoning known as “Marion-Kay Seasoning.” Marion-Kay requested permission from KFC to sell its seasoning products to KFC franchisees, which KFC refused. Four years later, KFC learned that Marion-Kay was supplying some KFC franchisees with Marion-Kay Seasoning...
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