Papa John’s Pizza is the fourth largest take-out and delivery pizza restaurant chain in the United States with headquarters in Jeffersontown, Kentucky, near Louisville. Its slogan is“Better Ingredients. Better Pizza. Papa John’s.”
Internationally, there are over 4,000 Papa John’s establishments, including over 3,200 in the U.S. and the remainder spread among 33 other countries. In September 2012, Papa John’s Pizza opened its 4,000th restaurant, in New Hyde Park, New York. The company celebrated the event by giving away 4,000 free pizzas to customers throughout New York City.
The Papa John’s restaurant franchise was founded in 1983 when “Papa” John Schnatter knocked out a broom closet in the back of his father’s tavern, Mick’s Lounge, in Jeffersonville, Indiana. He then sold his 1971 Z28 Camaro to purchase $1,600 worth of used pizza equipment and began selling pizzas to the tavern’s customers out of the converted closet. (In 2009, Schnatter got the Camaro back by contacting the family that he sold the car to in 1983.) His pizzas proved so popular that one year later he was able to move into an adjoining space. Papa John’s is now the fourth largest take-out and delivery pizza restaurant chain in the United States.
Pizza Hut lawsuit
In 1997, Pizza Hut filed a lawsuit against Papa John’s based on a series of advertisements that compared the ingredients of Papa John’s and its competitors. At trial, the court agreed with Pizza Hut’s argument that Papa John’s slogan did not constitute statements of literal fact – that “fresher ingredients” do not necessarily account for a “better” pizza; this ruling was overturned in 2000 when Papa John’s appealed the decision. Although the jury’s decision on the misleading advertising was upheld, the appeals court determined that Pizza Hut failed to prove, under the requirements of the Lanham Act, that the misleading advertising and puffery had a material effect on consumers’ purchasing decisions.
“We conclude that (1) the slogan, standing alone, is not an objectionable statement of fact upon which the consumers would be justified in relying, and thus not actionable under section 43(a); and (2) while the slogan, when utilized in connection with some of the post-May 1997 comparative advertising – specifically, the sauce, dough and stuff campaigns – conveyed objectionable and misleading facts, Pizza Hut has failed to adduce any evidence demonstrating that the facts conveyed by the slogan were material to the purchasing decisions of the consumers to which the slogan was directed.”