Buc-ee’s vs. Bucky’s: Texas loses another round to Nebraska in chain-name battle

Buc-ee’s opens in north Fort Worth

The long-awaited Buc-ee's on I35 & Texas 114 in Fort Worth opened at 6am to cheers and applause from those in line.
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The long-awaited Buc-ee's on I35 & Texas 114 in Fort Worth opened at 6am to cheers and applause from those in line.

We’ll always have the beaver.

According to the Omaha World-Herald, a federal judge in Nebraska has dismissed a lawsuit alleging trademark infringement filed by Buc-ee’s — the Texas-based highway-side convenience-store chain known for scores of gas pumps, over-the-top stores and, of course, clean restrooms — against Nebraska-based Bucky’s, a gas station and convenience store chain.

Buc-ee’s filed the suit in early 2017, alleging that Bucky’s similar name would be trademark infringement if it opened stores in Texas.

According to its website, Bucky’s already has two stores in the Houston area (one in Houston proper and one in Nassau Bay). The Star-Telegram’s March 2017 report on the suit says that the Nebraska chain had plans for a total of six in the Houston area.

The original complaint said that Bucky’s would result in “susbstantial overlap with Buc-ee’s current customer base” in Texas, creating “a strong likelihood of confusion” between the two stores. This would allow Bucky’s “to gain acceptance for its products based not on its own merits” but through an association with Buc-ee’s, the suit alleged.

The legal battle between the two companies goes back to 2008, when both filed for trademarks months apart, according to the Houston Chronicle, but an agreement was reached that Buc-ee’s could use its name because the companies’ markets were far enough apart.

“The recent case was first filed in the Southern District of Texas,” reported the World-Herald (which goes much deeper into past entanglements than we’re going here). “It was moved because the agreement from the 2008 case included a provision that said future disagreements would be handled in Nebraska. The recent case concluded on all but a tangential point on Nov. 8, when the two sides finished working with an arbitrator, who decided that Buc-ee’s would pay Bucky’s legal fees.”

Google Image searches for Bucky’s reveal a, well, convenience store, with gas pumps outside and a convenience-store interior. But the stores do not appear to rival Buc-ee’s in size or selection (or, of course, Texas-style clothes, kitchenware, decor and whimsy).

Bucky’s logo is also pretty standard, while Buc-ee’s has its famous beaver mascot, greeting you from billboards, bumper stickers and the travel centers’ own roadside signs. (The beaver mascot was central to a separate lawsuit, in which Buc-ee’s contended that the alligator mascot used by San Antonio’s Choke Canyon was too similar to the beaver mascot; that time, Buc-ee’s won.)

Buc-ee’s was founded in 1982 in Lake Jackson, south of Houston. In May 2016, the company opened a 60,000-square-foot travel center in far north Fort Worth, its 25th location. It now has more than 30 locations, including a Denton store that opened this fall.

The opening of the Fort Worth location was met with plenty of fanfare: By the time the doors opened at 6 a.m., dozens of people were waiting to get inside.

This report includes material from Star-Telegram archives.

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