The company behind a SpongeBob SquarePants-themed bar and restaurant owes $6 million to Viacom. U.S. District Judge Ewing Werlein Jr. issued the ruling against Pixi Universal on Wednesday, June 8, Law360 reports.
Based on via a joint motion from both parties, the ruling requires Pixi Universal to turn over certain restaurant-related websites to Viacom. In addition, both Pixi Universal and managing member Sanju Chang may not use phrases and images associated with the show such as "Krabby Patties." Critically, it does not hold Pixi managing member Sanju Chand personally liable for paying the judgement.
Last year, Viacom sued Pixi Universal for trademark infringement over The Rusty Krab, a restaurant in downtown Houston that touted itself as "Houston’s very first SpongeBob SquarePants-inspired pop-up restaurant and bar." The now-shuttered business's logo and branding copied the Krusty Krab, the diner where SpongeBob works as a cook, Viacom alleged. Furthermore, the lawsuit noted that employees wore SpongeBob-themed costumes and menu items referenced the show with names like "Krabby Patties" and "Pineapple Under the Sea," TMZ reported.
Viacom claimed that the business would diminish the value of the SpongeBob brand and that it would never authorize a restaurant affiliated with a children's show to sell alcohol. The company said it received "numerous public complaints from concerned parents who, after paying high ticket prices believing they would get an authentic SpongeBob SquarePants experience, voiced disgust at the Infringing Restaurant’s purportedly unsanitary conditions and unsafe food.”
Pixi countered that the restaurant was simply a parody and stated on its website that it was not affiliated with the Nickelodeon network that airs the show or the show itself. It denied claims of causing confusion, but that was apparently unpersuasive.
"Our client has a strong interest in protecting both their properties and consumers," Dennis R. Wilson, an attorney for Viacom, told Law360.