Recent court documents have shown that Panda Express has issued a small Arizona food truck owner with a cease and desist letter.
Since the popular food truck Trash Panda Vegan applied for a trademark in 2022 and looked toward further domestic expansion, it seems this may have been the trigger that caused the Arizona small business to appear on the radar of the juggernaut Panda Express.
On the one hand, Panda Express was founded in 1983 and registered a logo in 2006, before updating to the more current version in 2015, some 4 years before Trash Panda Vegan began trading. Panda Express also offers a limited selection of vegan options on its menu at various stores, so it is clear to see why they are concerned by another business using the words “panda” and “vegan” in combination.
Put simply, Panda Express seems to be arguing that the Panda Restaurant Group owns the trademark for the word ‘Panda’ for use in any kind of business that serves food – and they may well be correct from a legal standpoint.
On the other hand, Trash Panda Vegan has somewhat of an original logo. Granted, a panda associated with food is used as a selling point, but the panda is in a trash can, very animated, and is eating a hamburger. The only real visual similarity is the use of a panda. Furthermore, from a glance, Trash Panda Vegan seems to be selling Vegan hamburgers with fries and general fast food such as pasta. Panda Express is very obviously a Chinese kitchen, which is what it states on its logo.