Hooters loses lawsuit against Florida-based competitor

Friday, December 3rd 2004, 7:57 pm
By: News On 6

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) _ A judge has thrown out a lawsuit in which the Hooters restaurant chain claimed that a Florida-based competitor ripped off its idea of dressing waitresses in skimpy outfits.

U.S. District Judge Anne Conway dismissed the case Thursday before it went to the jury, finding that ``no reasonable juror'' could confuse waitresses for Ker's WingHouse and those for Hooters.

Ker's WingHouse waitresses are dressed in all-black shorts and tops, while Hooters girls wear orange shorts and white tops.

Attorneys for Hooters contended during the three-week trial that WingHouse was so similar to their company that customers could confuse the two or assume they were affiliated. Hooters also argued the company copied its menu and the way it lights its restauraunts.

Hooters was seeking $4 million in lost profits. Instead, Hooters was ordered to pay $1.2 million in counterclaim damages.

WingHouse president Crawford Ker, 42, said Thursday that Hooters was afraid of competition from WingHouse, which has expanded from one restaurant to 14 in the the last decade. Hooters was founded in Clearwater in 1983 and now has 375 restaurants worldwide.

``Maybe Hooters hasn't changed with the times,'' said Ker. ``What was good enough for 1983 may not be good enough for 2005.''

Hooters of America President Coby Brooks declined comment on the judge's ruling. Hooters' attorney, Steven Hill of Atlanta, also declined to comment because of the possibility of an appeal.