Food Fight: Pierogi Festivals Trade Threats

EDWARDSVILLE -- A food fight is underway between the organizers of pierogi festivals in Indiana and Luzerne County.

The group in Indiana claims its trademark was violated by organizers of the Edwardsville Pierogi Festival and now the case may be headed to federal court.

A group in Edwardsville started the yearly pierogi festival four years ago to bring people to the borough and raise money for community projects.

After this year's festival, organizers and their sponsors received a letter from the festival near Chicago claiming the very name of the event is a copyright infringement.

Organizers of the Edwardsville Hometown Committee used to worry about bad weather for its three-day festival celebrating the pierogi. Now, they're worried about getting sued by an Indiana community with a more established and much larger pierogi festival.

A letter from an Indiana patent attorney, "demands you and your organization cease all use of the infringing pierogi festival trademark," and threatened to sue the Edwardsville festival and its sponsors.

"They help us pay the bills, so it's just nasty," said Debbie Konefal-Rodgers.

Repair shop owner Jack Roberts says he threw away the threatening letter from the Indiana lawyer.

"Why would they bother a small community like ours?" Roberts asked. "There's wine festivals, there's, well maybe no other pierogi festivals. There's kielbasi festivals. Because they call it a certain name, they're coming after our town? I don't know."

People with the local pierogi festival worried these threats would end their four-year-old event.

Lawyers for the Edwardsville group went to federal court in Scranton and filed suit against the Indiana group claiming there is no trademark violation.

Attorney Jim Haggerty says the pierogi fest would have to show the Edwardsville event causes consumer confusion to prove a trademark violation.

"There is no consumer on planet earth who is going to confuse the Edwardsville Pierogi Festival with the suburban Chicago pierogi fest," Haggerty said.

Whiting, Indiana is about an hour's drive from Chicago. Its pierogi fest chairman tells Newswatch 16 it acted, "to protect the integrity of our festival and to protect our trademark. We could lose our trademark if we don't enforce it."

Whiting, Indiana pierogi fest chairman Tom Dabertin said he hopes organizers of the two pierogi festivals can work out a deal. But if the case heads to federal court in Scranton, Edwardsville festival organizers want the Indiana group to pay legal fees and damages caused by threats to sponsors of the Luzerne County event.

14 comments

  • Mearra

    I live in Indiana,95% of the population has never heard of pierogies. and 75% don’t know Whiting exists. This is a frivolous lawsuit that should be thrown out and the lawyer and plaintiff charged for being stupid and wasting the courts time and money.

  • Choinese

    We had a lady in Baltimore, Maryland claiming a trademark on the word “Hon”. She had a restaurant named “The Hon Cafe” and she wanted royalties every time used the word “Hon”. She almost lost her business because people started boycotting her cafe. She had to drop her stupid claim.

  • Frank Kopyta

    Babsipna. Exactly. I looked up both websites and IMHO, Whiting, Indiana can go pound sand. I want to go to their festival and just walk around and not buy a single pierogi or support any of the vendors!

  • Are you for real?

    Totally idiotic. How can one trademark pierogi festival? Next it will be wingfest winefest beerfest etc. Slap the attorneys that made the complaint for Indiana

  • babsinpa

    If you look it up, Whiting is “Pierogi Fest” while the other is “Edwardsville Pierogi Festival”. And there is definitely a difference in the logos. Just another big bully going after the little guy!!!

  • ***

    apparently people in indiana are bored? This is the lamest thing i ever heard. I would spitefully hold the festival for several days longer and send out invites to theses attorneys. I laughed at the man who threw away the letter. I would have done the same.

      • Silverfish Imperetrix

        Hey ass dirt, it’s good to see you back. It’s too bad your fambly reunion at your local wastewater treatment plant was spoiled because you and your tribe are too filthy to swim there. Don’t waste too much time here…those dung balls don’t roll themselves. Have yourself a peachy day.

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