Escort service sued for using Hooters name in recruiting

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
12 PHOTOS
Hooters of America
See Gallery
Escort service sued for using Hooters name in recruiting
Chinese waitresses are busy filling up glasses of beer at the counter of Hooters restaurant in Beijing, China, Monday, Sept. 10, 2007. Hooters, a US chain restaurant, famous for its waitresses dressed in short orange shorts and t-shirts, opened their first outlet in the capital Beijing, following Shanghai and Hangzhou. (AP Photo / Andy Wong)
Chinese waitresses dressed in orange shorts and t-shirts cheers while welcoming the arriving guests at the Hooters restaurant in Beijing, China, Monday, Sept. 10, 2007. Hooters, a US chain restaurant, are opening their first outlet in the capital Beijing, following Shanghai and Hangzhou. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
Chinese waitress danceth Hokey-Pokey in front of guests during the pre-opening Hooters Friday Oct. 22, 2004 in Shanghai, China. Hooters, the Atlanta-based operator and franchiser, will open its first- restaurant in the mainland China on Oct. 24th. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
DENVER, CO, SEPT. 29, 2003 -- Waitress Adelina at the LoDo Hooters, 1920 Blake Street, works the Broncos game crowd Sunday afternoon. Denver Post staff photo by Brian Brainerd. (Photo By Brian Brainerd/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO, SEPT. 29, 2003 -- Waitress Adelina at the LoDo Hooters, 1920 Blake Street, works the Broncos game crowd Sunday afternoon. Denver Post staff photo by Brian Brainerd. (Photo By Brian Brainerd/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
Hooters girls with a male customer on his birthday
Waitresses putting up their show at the american "Hooters" restaurant. Beijing, china
Jan. 30, 2012 - Rohnert Park, CA, USA - Hooters waitresses sing a birthday song to Jack Martin during the opening day of Hooters in Rohnert Park on Monday, January 30, 2012. (Credit Image: © Santa Rosa Press Democrat/ZUMAPRESS.com)
Dallas - 3 Waitresses at Hooters
Dallas - Hamburgers at Hooters
Image inside Hooters    
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION


By Gabe Friedman

Hooters of America, the restaurant chain known for its skimpily clad waitresses, is suing a Florida escort service it says tarnished Hooters' trademarks as it sought to hire away its employees.

The lawsuit, filed on Thursday in federal court in Fort Lauderdale, says that Nikki's Escort Service and its proprietor Nikki Swafford posted ads on the Tampa site of Craigslist.com stating: "Now Hiring Hooters Girls $100 Per Hour."

The ads were accompanied by a photo of women wearing the chain's official uniform.

Hooters argued that Nikki's tarnished its trademarks, including its signature owl logo, and engaged in deceptive trade practices for suggesting the restaurant chain is affiliated with the escort service.

"(Hooters) spends millions of dollars annually marketing their brands...and engaging in charitable activities throughout the United States," says the complaint, citing donations to the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Special Olympics among other groups.

Atlanta-based Hooters is a privately held corporation with 375 locations in the United States, as well as in 28 countries, court papers said. The company has filed 13 lawsuits alleging trademark infringement and been involved in more than 127 federal lawsuits since 1991, according to court documents.

Hooters also named San Francisco-based Craigslist Inc as a defendant for failing to take down the ads after Hooters sent a notice of abuse to the website's operators.

Hooters said it sent a cease-and-desist letter to Nikki's and to Swafford. According to the complaint, Swafford responded in a "profane and unprofessional manner" to a telephone call from Hooters. The chain's attorney, Andrew William Bray, was not immediately available for comment, nor was a spokesman for Craigslist.

A man who answered the phone at Nikki's and declined to identify himself, said the ads say "Kooters," not Hooters, before hanging up.

Hooters acknowledged in court papers that Nikki's had made that change in its Craigslist ads, but argues the use of the word "Kooters" is still trademark infringement because the ads feature a photo taken inside one of its restaurants and women featured in the ad are wearing the official Hooters Girl uniform.

(Reporting by Gabe Friedman; Editing by Ted Botha, Edith Honan and Gunna Dickson)
Read Full Story

People are Reading