Al Johnson's Swedish Butik has been a popular landmark in Door County's Sister Bay for decades. Along with Swedish pancakes, Swedish meatballs, and a great gift shop, Al Johnson's is known for its most unique trait: goats on the roof, munching on grass (I've been calling it "the original green roof.") During the warm weather months, the goats - who live on a farm during the winter and overnights in summer - are able to climb onto the roof of the restaurant and graze to their heart's content, much to their delight.. and the delight of guests and onlookers. There's even a live "goat cam" so you can see what they're up to any minute. They even trademarked "Goats on a roof of grass" as part of it.
Seems innocent and fun enough, right?
Well, an attorney from New York named Todd Bank launched a lawsuit back in 2011 to try and strip Al Johnson's of its trademark, claiming it was "demeaning to goats."
Finally, in this year of weird news already, a federal circuit court ruled Bank didn’t have any standing to bring the lawsuit, since he didn’t have a legitimate commercial interest, such as a competing trademark, and he didn’t suffer any damages from the claimed “disparaging remarks” about goats. (I mean, why would he even think this is a good idea? Did he go there and get bad service or something?)
Bank ended up paying for his frivolousness, too: the court also ordered him to pay costs and attorneys fees to Al Johnson’s for bringing the frivolous lawsuit in the first place, pointing out that Bank petitioned the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board three times -- which were all dismissed for lack of standing -- then appealed to federal court making the same arguments.
I mean, he's persistent. But I, for one, am glad he not only lost, but had to pay the costs and attorneys fees. We'll see if he ends up doing anything productive with his life moving forward.
Photo credits: StateTrunkTour.com