Whiting’s Pierogi Fest settles with East Coast event in trademark dispute

As it appeared in the Chicago Tribune

By Becky Jacobs

Two clashing pierogi festivals — one in Whiting and the other in Pennsylvania — reached a settlement in federal court over a trademark dispute.

“They acknowledged that it’s our trademark,” Tom Dabertin, the chairman of Pierogi Fest in Whiting, said. Specifics about the settlement were not included in court records, and Dabertin said the two sides agreed not to publicly discuss the terms and conditions.

The Edwardsville, Pa., Hometown Committee, which runs the Edwardsville Pierogi Festival, recognized the “validity” of the Whiting trademark, though, and will continue to be able to hold their festival, Dabertin said.

Representatives for Edwardsville Pierogi Festival did not respond to requests made by the Post-Tribune for further comment.

The suit was filed in July 2017 after the Hometown Committee received two letters — in 2015 and 2017 — from the Whiting-Robertsdale Chamber of Commerce “threatening to sue the Hometown Committee for infringing on the federal trademark ‘Pierogi Fest,’ which (the chamber of commerce) owns,” a complaint states.

The letters claimed that the Edwardsville festival directly competed with the one in Whiting and was “likely to cause consumer confusion,” court records state. The Edwardsville Hometown Committee argued this was an “absurd allegation,” the complaint states.

“There’s no person on planet Earth that is confused by this,” Haggerty told the Post-Tribune last year.

Both festivals describe themselves as nonprofits and run by volunteers to celebrate the Polish heritage in the communities they’re held in with parades, vendors and games.

Edwardsville Pierogi Festival has been held since 2014 in Edwardsville, a borough of less than 5,000 people, according to the complaint. Proceeds from the festival have helped pay for a donation of teddy bears to the local police department to comfort children and for an annual Easter egg hunt, court records state.

Pierogi Fest has been held for 24 years in Whiting, a city of similar size, draws almost 300,000 people, according to the fest’s website.

Dabertin told the Post-Tribune last year that he and others with Pierogi Fest are just following the protocol that they have in the past when they’ve encountered other similar festivals in “protecting our integrity” and the reputation Pierogi Fest has.

“We have allowed others to use (the trademark), but they always got our permission,” Dabertin said.

Dabertin said this week that he is looking forward to a “great” Pierogi Fest at the end of this month in Whiting.

The Edwardsville Pierogi Festival took place last month in Pennsylvania.

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