Here in Texas, if you’re headed to a Buc-ee’s, there’s little confusion about what that means — Beaver Nuggets, an expansive jerky selection and clean bathrooms. Those are images closely tied to the convenience store chain and it is suing to keep it that way. Buc-ee’s, the one with the cartoon beaver mascot, has filed a lawsuit against a Nebraska convenience store chain with the same name, just with a different spelling: Bucky’s.

The dispute actually began more than a decade ago, when the companies filed for trademarks just months apart.

“They had a truce and they decided that Bucky’s in Nebraska could continue to use its name and Buc-ee’s down here could continue to use its name because the names and the logos and the market areas were different enough so consumers were not likely to be confused,” says L.M. Sixel, a Houston Chronicle business writer who has been following the lawsuit.

The truce lasted until the Nebraska company recently started taking steps to expand into Buc-ee’s territory. It bought property in Houston, applied for zoning permits and acquired Texas liquor licenses.

Sixel says the outcome of the lawsuit depends on whether the public is confused.

“Trademark law is designed to protect the public,” Sixel says. “I think companies think of it a lot of times as protecting their brands, but it’s really to make sure the public understands who they’re visiting when they go to a company with a brand that they can rely on and have a certain level of standards that they expect.”

Despite the enormous interest in the case, it’s still too early to know which convenience store chain the court will favor. Still, it’s already evident some Texans feel pretty passionately about the Texas-based chain and the lawsuit’s outcome.

“I think Buc-ee’s turned a really boring event in our lives — which is driving down the highway and stopping for gas and trying to find a clean restroom — into an experience,” Sixel says.
Written by Molly Smith.

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