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Fighting over WordsLanguage and Civil Law Cases$
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Roger W. Shuy

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195328837

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195328837.001.0001

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Ownership of the Words “Wood Roasted”

Ownership of the Words “Wood Roasted”

Woodroast Systems v. Restaurants Unlimited

(p.171) CHAPTER 16 Ownership of the Words “Wood Roasted”
Fighting over Words

Roger W. Shuy (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

A restaurant with “Woodroast” in its title and frequently used in its menu and advertisements sued another restaurant chain for using the same word in its menu items and advertisements. Electronic searches found that several other restaurants used “wood roasted” as part of their names and that menus from many different restaurants used “wood roasted” to modify various menu items such as seafood, vegetables, and chicken. Morphological and syntax analysis, along with punctuation, showed that all of these restaurants used “wood” plus “roast” as two separate words in adjectival phrases, as opposed to the plaintiff's use of a single proper noun. Electronic searches of media articles revealed that the only uses of “Woodroast” as a single, capitalized proper noun were in references to the plaintiff's restaurant. A syntax analysis of restaurant names led to the conclusion that the plaintiff's name refers to a style of cuisine while the other restaurants used “wood roasted” to indicate a method of cooking.

Keywords:   electronic searches, morphological, syntax, punctuation, adjectival phrases, proper noun

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