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Rival Pierogi festivals settle legal dispute over trademark

July 16, 2018

A northwestern Indiana city that hosts an annual festival built around a popular Polish delicacy has reached a settlement in its trademark dispute with a rival festival in Pennsylvania.

Federal court records don't include specifics about the settlement, the Post-Tribune of Northwest Indiana reported. But officials who run Pennsylvania's Edwardsville Pierogi Festival recognized the “validity” of the trademark for the Pierogi Fest in Whiting, Indiana, said Tom Dabertin, chairman of the Whiting event.

Edwardsville organizers "acknowledged that it's our trademark," he said.

Dabertin said the two sides agreed not to publicly discuss the terms and conditions.

The Edwardsville Hometown Committee since 2014 has run the Pennsylvania festival dedicated to the potato-filled dumplings, abundant in a region whose coal mines drew Polish immigrants more than a century ago. Representatives for that festival didn't respond to requests for comment.

The Hometown Committee filed the lawsuit last summer after receiving letters from the Whiting-Robertsdale Chamber of Commerce accusing the committee of infringing on its "Pierogi Fest" trademark. The letters sent in 2015 and 2017 alleged that the Edwardsville festival directly competed with the one in Whiting and was "likely to cause consumer confusion," according to court records.

"There is no person on planet Earth that is confused by this," said Jim Haggerty, an attorney for the Edwardsville festival, last year.

Both festivals described themselves as not-for-profits that celebrate the Polish heritage in the communities they're held in with parades, vendors and games. The Whiting festival has been around since 1995 and draws an estimated 250,000 visitors annually.

Dabertin said last year that Pierogi Fest officials are just following their protocol for "protecting our integrity" and the festival's reputation.

"We have allowed others to use (the trademark), but they always got our permission," he said, adding that Edwardsville will still continue to hold their festival.

Whiting's festival is scheduled for July 27-29. The Edwardsville festival took place in June.

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