Chipotle sues Sweetgreen for stealing his name

by Ana Lopez

You can name your new burrito bowl anything you like – just don’t call it the “Chipotle Chicken Burrito Bowl”.

That’s the latest gauntlet from Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc, which is suing its California-based fast-casual restaurant rival Sweetgreen Inc for trademark infringement.

Chipotle lawyers appeared in federal court Tuesday, claiming that Sweetgreen’s new menu item, the “Chipotle Chicken Burrito Bowl,” crosses the line.

Chipotle states that Sweetgreen’s burrito bowl is “very similar and directly competitive” to its own. They said the item had similar ingredients such as chicken, rice and black beans.

Moreover, by using the word chipotle in its marketing, Sweetgreen “prominently uses the famous Chipotle trademark.”

Chipotle, the spice, is a Mexican powder made from dried, smoked jalapeno peppers.

Sweetgreen said it does not comment on pending litigation. But shares fell more than 10% today.

Related: ‘Shoot Them’: Disgruntled customers attack Chipotle employees who won’t give them extra cheese

Sweetgreen introduced the burrito bowl last month

Known for its healthy salads and grain bowls, Sweetgreen has been on a mission to add “heartier” items to its menu offerings.

According to a press release of the company, internal surveys showed that their customers preferred 70% chicken as protein.

“The Chipotle Chicken Burrito Bowl is our answer to heartier meal options,” said Nicolas Jammet, sweetgreen co-founder and chief concept officer. “Inspired by bold chipotle seasoning, this high-protein option balances a brand new sweet green flavor profile.”

The product was launched on March 30.

But Chipotle isn’t happy with the name. In a lawsuit, the company claimed they contacted Sweetgreen to stop.

They even offered a new name suggestion: “Chicken Bowl with chipotle” (lower case C)

Sweetgreen didn’t seem too nice to that and didn’t respond.

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