Missed Opportunity to Register “Sriracha” Mark
As first reported in the LA Times, Huy Fong Foods, Inc., the originator of the famous spicy Sriracha sauce, may have missed its opportunity to trademark the term “Sriracha”. David Tran, the owner of Huy Fong Foods, named his sauce after a coastal city in Thailand and believed that it would be difficult to register the Sriracha mark for that reason.
Sriracha-style sauces include a combination of chili paste, vinegar, garlic and sugar. There are several brands marketing sauces using this recipe and the name Sriracha, including Frank’s Red Hot, Kikkoman, Lee Kum Kee, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut. Tran initially considered other companies’ use of the word “Sriracha” as free marketing for his product and his sales have grown from $60 million to $80 million in the past two years, according to the LA Times. However, when McIlhenny Co., the maker of Tabasco, announced its plan to release a hot sauce using the name Sriracha, Tran admitted that Tabasco’s use of the Sriracha mark may present a problem for his company.
Fortunately, Huy Fong Foods registered its signature rooster logo and green-capped bottle that holds their famous Sriracha sauce and licenses the right to use these trademarks to specialty producers, which helps to market their sauce. It does not appear that Huy Fong Foods has any intention of registering the mark at this time. In the event that Huy Fong Foods were to attempt to register the Sriracha trademark now, the USPTO may find that the term has become too generic.