Neither peace symbols nor pretzels are patented, but just one person has the right to put them together, and that's Pittsburgh area resident Leslie Friend, according to a lawsuit she filed Wednesday.
Ms. Friend, whose age and neighborhood of residence were not available, sued Keystone Pretzels of Lititz and Laurel Hill Foods of Attleboro, Mass. The former makes peace-symbol-shaped pretzels and the latter sells them, according to the complaint.
That's not copacetic with Ms. Friend, because she purchased a patent for the peace-symbol-shaped pretzel. The patent was issued in 2000 to Michael Lamont of Eugene, Ore., according to an exhibit attached to the complaint.
"She acquired this patent with the intent to start a pretzel business," said Downtown attorney Daniel Brean, who along with colleague Russell D. Orkin authored the complaint. "She was in the process of building this pretzel business."
He said he did not know why Ms. Friend was intent on making peace-symbol-shaped pretzels, but said she's "a very nice person" and the symbol makes "a nifty pretzel."
Then she discovered the competition. An exhibit to the complaint shows photographs of Laurel Hill "Pretzel Chips" in sea salt, honey multigrain and everything varieties, in the peace symbol shape.
"Attempts were made to amicably resolve this matter," Mr. Brean said. "There have been discussions between Ms. Friend and counsel for the defendants."
No treaty has been reached, so she sued.
Ms. Friend wants to receive a royalty, or the companies' total profits from selling the pretzels, increased damages for willful infringement, attorney fees and an injunction preventing further infringement.
An inquiry to Keystone Pretzels was referred to Don Dixon, an executive with the firm, who claimed no knowledge of the matter before ending the call. Calls to Laurel Hill were referred to an official with parent company Chex Finer Foods, who had no immediate comment.
Rich Lord: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1542 and on Twitter: @richelord. First Published July 17, 2013 4:15 PM