An Arizona vegan food truck owner will fight against Panda Express after the fast food chain challenged her trademark.
Chef Krystal Mack is the owner of Trash Panda Vegan, a truck located in South Phoenix that she started during the COVID-19 pandemic. She prides herself on serving plant-based comfort food to her community, like burgers, hot dogs, mac & cheese, wings, and salads.
Months after Mack filed a trademark for her business in 2022, she learned that Panda Express, which serves American-Chinese food, claimed that her logo and name are close to their brand, 12 News reported. Both logos include a panda, but Mack’s is more of a cartoon eating out of the trash and holding a burger.
“Never one time has anybody ever asked for orange chicken or beef and broccoli,” Mack told the outlet, adding, “It’s heartbreaking. I’ve never been punched in the gut, but I feel like that’s what it would be.”
Panda Restaurant Group Inc, the parent company to the restaurant, raised concerns that the similarities could result in “harm” to their company, according to the Arizona Republic.
“Panda Restaurant Group owns the trademark for the word ‘Panda’ for use in any restaurant service and have engaged in standard industry practice necessary to keep this trademark legally intact,” a statement from the Panda Food Group said. “Because this is an ongoing legal case, we are unable to comment further.”
Mack started a GoFundMe and explained that she plans to fight back against the cease-and-desist to prove that her food truck won’t impact their billion-dollar franchise. She believes starting from scratch will cost her.
“We are currently being pressured to remove our trademark filing and any panda markings associated with our brand,” Mack wrote. “This situation has caused us a great deal of emotional distress, and if we are forced to make these changes, it will result in a significant financial loss as we would essentially have to start over.”
Mack plans to use the money to cover legal-related fees and other needs related to this case. She has raised more than $5,300 so far. In her interview with the Arizona Republic, Mack said Trash Panda is another name for a raccoon, and the logo was a way to compliment it.
The Panda Restaurant Group has pursued a lawsuit against small restaurants, including a restaurant dubbed Panda Libre, which served Mexican-Asian cuisine. The owner eventually changed the name, but the restaurant decided to close its doors in 2021, according to the reports.