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February 2011

Texas Trial Team Obtains Defense Verdict in Jury Trial

Houston Partner Barry Flynn obtained a defense verdict in a trademark infringement, unfair competition, and dilution jury trial on behalf of Mexican Restaurants, Inc.

Plaintiff Gruma Corporation, the owner of the word mark "Mission" (and other trademarks containing "Mission") for tortillas, chips, salsa, queso, and other Mexican food products, sought to permanently enjoin Mexican Restaurants from using the name and mark "Mission Burritos" in connection with its Mexican restaurants. Gruma claimed that Mexican Restaurants' use of "Mission Burritos" in connection with its Mexican restaurants was likely to cause confusion with Gruma's "Mission" trademarks under federal law, and was likely to dilute its marks under Texas state law. Mexican Restaurants argued that there was no likelihood of confusion or dilution, and that Gruma failed to take reasonable measures to protect its "Mission" trademarks in light of its nearly 15 year delay in challenging Mexican Restaurants' (and its predecessor's) use of "Mission Burritos."

After a three-day trial and deliberations lasting less than two hours, the jury returned a unanimous verdict in favor of Mexican Restaurants. The verdict is a significant victory for Mexican Restaurants in view of its future franchising plans and its significant efforts to develop and grow its "Mission Burritos" brand over the past 15 years.

Barry G. Flynn