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Thursday, February 29, 2024
Courthouse News Service
Thursday, February 29, 2024 | Back issues
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Sausage Maker Defends Its Century-Old Name

CHICAGO (CN) - A famous Chicago sausage brand, Krueger Sausage, can advance claims that its rivals at Sysco Chicago sell falsely labeled "Krueger" bratwurst, a federal judge ruled.

Krueger trumpets its century-long "tradition in the manufacture of quality sausage products and luncheon meats."

"The Krueger Sausage Company's humble beginnings date back to 1915 in a North Side Chicago garage," according to the company's website. "Sons of immigrants from Germany, three brothers, George, John and Floyd Krueger arrived in the meat-packing district with their family recipes and traditional home cooking."

In 1997, company president Kurt Krueger sold his corporate interests to Abbyland Illinois, which authorized Real Sausage Inc. and L&P Provisions to use the Krueger sausage mark on their products. When Krueger bought back his interest and right to use the sausage marks in 2006, he sent a cease-and-desist letter to Real Sausage and L&P. Kreuger later transferred these assets to a company of which he is the sole member, S&A Futures.

But Krueger discovered in 2010 that two Chicago restaurants had purchased counterfeit "Krueger bratwurst" from Sysco Chicago Inc.

He and S&A filed a 15-claim suit against Sysco, Real Sausage and L&P in 2011.

U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly dismissed six claims entirely last week and dismissed another four claims against certain defendants.

Krueger lost his conspiracy claim because Kennelly found that the complaint "includes nothing about the alleged conspiracy among the defendants beyond the conclusory statements that defendants 'agreed' and 'acted in concert.'"

Furthermore, "although plaintiffs' unfair competition claims generally concern defendants' alleged sale of products using the Krueger name, plaintiffs do not allege ... that defendants misappropriated confidential information and used it for a business advantage," the judge said.

But the statute of limitations has not run out on Krueger's claims. "Absent a definite allegation in the complaint that were was misbehavior for Krueger to discover in May 2006 (or at any time before July 2010), the court is not persuaded that Krueger's claims are barred as a matter of law such that they are subject to dismissal," Kennelly wrote.

Krueger's claims of fraud and trademark infringement survived the motion to dismiss, and Kennelly said he can replead his Lanham Act claims.

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