Sweetgreen, Chipotle settle trademark infringement over menu item

  • Sweetgreen said it renamed the latest menu item after Chipotle sued the company for trademark infringement.
  • The salad chain said the change is part of a tentative agreement to resolve the case.
  • Sweetgreen’s Chipotle Chicken Burrito Bowl has been renamed the “Chicken + Chipotle Pepper Bowl.”

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Sweetgreen said Thursday that it has renamed its newest menu item as part of a tentative agreement with Chipotle Mexican Grill to resolve a lawsuit filed by the burrito chain.

Chipotle filed the lawsuit, which claims the salad chain’s “Chipotle Chicken Burrito Bowl” infringed on its trademark, in California federal court on Tuesday, just days after the salad chain introduced the item.

A Sweetgreen representative said in a statement to CNBC on Thursday that the company decided to rename the bowl to the “Chicken + Chipotle Pepper Bowl” to focus on its business and serving customers without distraction.

“We look forward to putting this lawsuit behind us as we continue to connect more people to real food,” Sweetgreen said in a statement.

Chipotle said in a statement that it is satisfied that Sweetgreen chose to change its name in a way that protects its trademarks, so both companies have agreed to settle the lawsuit.

It is unclear when the name change will take effect. As of noon, Sweetgreen’s website was still using the original name, and some Sweetgreen customers received promotional emails Thursday offering 50% off the item — under the original name — to celebrate National Burrito Day.

In Chipotle’s original complaint, the company said it sent Sweetgreen a cease and desist notice asking the company to drop “chipotle” from the name when it heard about the Chipotle Chicken Burrito Bowl, but Sweetgreen never responded. (Sweetgreen told CNBC on Wednesday that the company responded to the termination on Tuesday, after the lawsuit was filed.)

Sweetgreen’s stock closed down 6% on Wednesday after the lawsuit was reported, but shares recouped those losses in trading on Thursday. The salad chain’s stock has fallen 14% in 2023, giving it a market cap of $821 million.

Compared to its fast-casual rival, Chipotle is a behemoth, with a market capitalization of $46.7 billion. The burrito chain’s shares are up 21% this year.

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