Just two days after Chipotle Mexican Grill filed a complaint accusing sweetgreen of trademark infringement—claiming the salad chain was using its intellectual property to promote its new Chipotle Chicken Burrito Bowl—the two parties reached an agreement to resolve the lawsuit.
sweetgreen launched the bowl on March 30, describing it in a press release as “the latest iteration of sweetgreen’s menu innovation strategy, as the brand evolves beyond salads to introduce a bowl without any greens.” sweetgreen’s co-founder and chief concept officer Nic Jammet said the dish’s name was inspired by its use of “bold chipotle spices.”
The lawsuit, filed on Tuesday in California federal court, claimed sweetgreen advertised the new menu item using the word “chipotle” in a font that is similar or identical to the burrito chain’s stylized logo. Chipotle also accused sweetgreen of using its trademarked “Adobo Red” color in marketing materials. In some cases, Chipotle said the product name was displayed more prominently than other source-identifying names or trademarks. In other cases, it said the term “chipotle” appeared without any features that would tie the product back to sweetgreen.
Chipotle used sweetgreen’s social media presence to back up its claim that the rival fast-casual chain intended to capitalize on its brand. The lawsuit referenced a sweetgreen Instagram post announcing the launch. In response to a comment stating “Chipotle who?!” the brand replied, “You said it, not us,” and included an emoji indicating zipped lips. In another post, a user commented “@chipotle get a load of this.”
“The user, tagging Chipotle’s Instagram account, clearly understood the association sweetgreen is trying to draw between its product, Chipotle’s products, and the famous Chipotle brand,” the complaint says.
Chipotle also claimed a promotional event for sweetgreen’s bowl–in honor of National Burrito Day on April 6–was “clearly intended” to copy and trade off its long standing National Burrito Day promotion. The company sent sweetgreen a cease-and-desist notice and requested it re-name the bowl prior to filing its complaint.
On Thursday, a spokesperson for sweetgreen told QSR the company planned to rename the bowl to stave off the lawsuit.
"In order to focus on the business and continue serving our guests without distraction, we have decided to rename our bowl to the Chicken + Chipotle Pepper Bowl as part of a tentative agreement to resolve the lawsuit," a sweetgreen spokesperson said in a statement. "Our mission is to bring customers healthy, elevated and craveable menu items that make you feel good. We are looking forward to putting this lawsuit behind us as we continue to connect more people to real food."
“We are pleased that Sweetgreen has chosen to amend their materials in a manner that protects our trademarks and intellectual property, and therefore, we have both agreed to resolve the pending lawsuit," said Laurie Schalow, Chipotle's chief corporate affairs officer, in a statement. "We will continue our vigilance in protecting our intellectual property in the marketplace.”
This story has been updated to reflect Chipotle and sweetgreen reaching an agreement, and both brands' provided statements.