A descendant of one of the founders of the popular Chicago hot dog maker Vienna Beef has landed in the legal hot seat as his former employer filed suit for trademark infringement and false advertising against him Monday.
According to the federal lawsuit, Scott D. Ladany allegedly borrowed the signature recipe from Vienna Beef, a company which he left in 1983, to help spur on sales at his own hot dog company, Red Hot Chicago, though he had signed a gag order upon his exiting the family business.
"I guess it's the great Chicago wienie [sic] wars," Vienna chief executive Jim Bodman told the Chicago Tribune. "We don't mind competing with somebody, but we mind somebody sticking their hand in our back pocket."
"They either stole them from us or they're lying to the public. Either way, we're going find out (through the lawsuit)," he continued.
Scott Ladany's grandfather, Samuel Ladany, is credited with founding Vienna alongside Emil Reichel. As the story goes, the pair was lured to Chicago from their homeland of Austria-Hungary because of the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893 and the pair's dogs were such a success that they ended up staying.
That story is repeated practically verbatim on Red Hot Chicago's website, but the Ladanys' affiliation with Vienna Beef has been left out.
Red Hot Chicago was reportedly founded by Scott D. Ladany in 1986 and yet, its website claims, the company "represents a proud family legacy that spans 3 centuries and 4 generations. This family tradition put Chicago in the hot dog business over 100 years ago." Further, the website contains several slogans - "A Family Tradition Since 1893" and "Great Taste Runs In Our Family" - winking toward a deep-seated history in the encased meat industry.
The suit asks that Red Hot Chicago pay Vienna Beef monetary damages and stop making misleading statements pertaining to their company history and product origin.