Sweetgreen Agrees To Rename Its Burrito Bowl After Chipotle Lawsuit

"Chipotle" can refer to an ingredient: the dried and even spicier version of the jalapeño chile pepper. But it can also refer to the name of a fast casual restaurant chain: Chipotle Mexican Grill. The difference between these two meanings formed the basis of a recent lawsuit, as Chipotle – the Mexican-themed restaurant chain – sued Sweetgreen over the name of the latter's newly released Chipotle Chicken Burrito Bowl, Reuters reported.

While Sweetgreen is best known as a salad chain, its introduction of the spicy protein-packed bowl in March was intended to signal that it would focus on more than its leafy green menu items, per a press release. Instead, it triggered a lawsuit for trademark infringement, filed on April 4 in a California federal court. The legal complaint was not just about the use of the brand name Chipotle, but according to Reuters, about the similarity of the product to a burrito bowl already offered by Chipotle, and the use of its distinctive font and color scheme in marketing materials.

Those looking forward to a legal showdown between the two fast casual competitors will be disappointed, however. Within two days of the suit being filed, Sweetgreen agreed to change the name, CNBC confirmed.

The new name change hasn't altered the bowl's ingredients

According to CNBC, an agreement in principle has been reached between the two rival chains, and Sweetgreen's newest menu item will henceforth be known as the Chicken + Chipotle Pepper Bowl. The amended moniker has already been added to the Sweetgreen website, where the dish is described as having "an all-grains base, citrusy black beans, and house-made roasted chipotle salsa."

Although the agreement has been referred to as "tentative," per CNBC, both sides seem intent on putting the issue behind them. In fact, Sweetgreen issued a statement to that effect. Chipotle, for its part, continued its policy of aggressively protecting its brand. For example, in 2012, it sued Kroger over the way the grocery chain promoted one of its packaged chicken products. Then, in 2013, Chipotle forced the removal of a Jack in the Box menu item due to a trademark infringement suit. As with the Sweetgreen action, Chipotle was bothered not just by the use of its brand name, but also by the font used in marketing materials.

Names aside, both Sweetgreen and Chipotle are now selling burrito bowls, and both offered promotions in conjunction with National Burrito Day on April 6. It looks like the next contentious battle between the two will be fought over sales.