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A Louisiana chef is suing Smokey Robinson for trademark infringement over a catchy slogan he says he has used for years to sell gumbo and other fare. Johnny “Jambalaya” Percle, who sued the singer last week in federal court, said he had “Soul in Yo Bowl” trademarked in 1997 after using it for a decade. Percle’s complaint says that Robinson’s use of the phrase, “The Soul is in the Bowl,” for his line of Louisiana foods is so similar that it will confuse consumers. “If he would have called it ‘Smokey Robinson’s Gumbo,’ he wouldn’t have heard boo from Johnny Jam,” said Percle, a chef at Nottoway Plantation, about 25 miles south of Baton Rouge. “I truly believe by all legal rights, ‘Soul in the Bowl’ is mine, not his.” Robinson and his California-based SFGL Foods introduced “Smokey Robinson’s Soul in the Bowl” line in January, featuring frozen Louisiana gumbo. The products are on sale in some Chicago grocery stores, with distribution planned for California later this month. A national roll-out is planned by the end of the year, according to a company Web site. Percle, who once catered a meal for Robinson in New Orleans, learned of the similar slogan from a friend who called to ask whether the chef and singer had joined forces. Steve Sherman, a California lawyer for SFGL Foods, said he is aware of the lawsuit, “but I have not personally had an opportunity to review the complaint yet. It doesn’t sound like something that has merit.” Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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