Lawsuit alleges iconic Pike Place Fish Market guilty of trademark infringement

Pike Place Fish Market products.

Pike Place Fish Market (PPFM), the iconic fresh seafood market inside Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington, U.S.A., is facing a trademark infringement lawsuit.

The Pike Place Market Preservation and Development Authority (PDA), which manages the market, claims PPFM it is illicitly using its name to advertise products nationwide without PDA’s permission.

In a lawsuit filed in early September via the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington in Seattle, PDA alleges PPFM has breached its lease agreement by illegally using the market’s name to market smoked salmon products across the country. The PDA also contends that PPFM is using the name in an illegal non-market enterprise to accommodate its mail-order business.

PPFM, known for its fishmongers who throw fish back and forth to one another in front of throngs of visitors, has long been one of the main tourist draws for the Pike Place Market, which opened in 1907.

In 2018, a group of longtime Pike Place employees purchased the 90-year-old business from John Yokoyama, who ran the stand after buying it from the original owners in 1965.

In leases signed by Yokoyama in 1996 and again in 2010, PPFM agreed it would not use the name outside of the Pike Place Market Historical District without written permission from the PDA. The new owners – Anders Miller, Ryan Reese, Sam Samson, and Jaison Scott – signed a lease with the same stipulations in 2018, according to the lawsuit.

In 2021, PPFM executives approached the PDA about possibly operating fulfillment and shipping operations offsite.

“The PDA was open to working with PPFM regarding potential operations outside the market but sought to understand PPFM’s plans – not least [of which] how PPFM intended to use the Pike Place name for this activity,” the complaint said.

PPFM refused to explain its plans and, instead, insisted it could use the Pike Place name outside of the Pike Place Market Historical District “however it pleased,” PDA claims.

In June 2021, PPFM dropped its request to initiate out-of-market operations, and in September of that year, it signed another lease with the PDA for additional space within the Pike Place Market, according to the complaint.

However, in early 2023, PPFM again demanded the PDA agree to its desired use of the Pike Place name outside of the market, PDA contends.

On 26 July, PPFM filed a petition with the U.S. Trademark Trial and Appeal Board seeking to ... 

Photo courtesy of Pike Place Market Preservation and Development Authority

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