Law Comes Down on the Side of Chicago in Mumbo Sauce Debate
LANHAM, Md. (CBSDC) — Maryland, crabs. Virginia, ham. D.C., Mumbo sauce. Right?
Wrong. At least according to a recently settled trademark dispute between a D.C. vendor and a decades-old Chicago brand.
Marshall, Gerstein & Borun LLP, an Illinois-based intellectual property law firm, says the Mumbo name remains legally owned by Select Brands, LLC, even after a District business filed a petition to cancel the trademark registration.
According to the firm’s website, the father of current Select Brands’ owner Allison Collins trademarked the Mumbo BBQ sauce name in 1958. At that point, he had already been making and serving the sauce for 8 years at the Chicago restaurants he owned. He later bottled and sold the sauce to other restaurants and grocery stores, as well.
But, in 2011, Capital City Mumbo Sauce filed a petition with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board to cancel Select Brands’ federal registration for the Mumbo title.
The D.C. store claimed “that the Mumbo trademark had become a generic name for a type of sauce used in certain Washington D.C. carry-out restaurants,” according to Marshall, Gerstein & Borun.
The firm recently obtained a dismissal of the trademark cancellation request. Arsha Jones, the founder of Capital City Mumbo Sauce, plans to file an appeal, according to a Washington Post report.
The Capital City Mumbo Sauce website has this to say about the condiment:
“Mumbo sauce (also referred to as mambo sauce) has been a favorite among the Washington, DC subculture for years – decades even. The red tomato based sauce is sweet and tangy, with a bit of a kick. Often used as a condiment on fried chicken wings and French fries, mumbo sauce is, for the most part, only found at local Washington, DC Chinese carryout restaurants.
Locals who are familiar with the history of mumbo sauce say it originated during the late 1960’s from Wing-n-Things, an African American owned chicken wing restaurant. The first location of Wings-n-Things was located on 7th and Florida Ave NW, and mumbo sauce was created as an original condiment to be served with their fried chicken wings. The sweet sauce became so popular that Asian restaurants across the DC metropolitan area adopted the sauce and created various other versions of their own.
Most Washingtonians believe mumbo sauce originated in Washington, DC, while others suggest it came from a barbecue restaurant in Chicago. What do we believe? Well, that it comes straight from the District of Columbia, of course!”