Vienna Beef has filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against Red Hot Chicago, claiming that the company either ripped off Vienna's recipe or is lying by telling its customers that its hot dogs are the real thing, reports the Chicago Tribune. Ret Hot Chicago is run by Scott D. Ladany, grandson of one of the Vienna Beef founders.

"I guess it's the great Chicago wienie wars," said Jim Bodman, chief executive of Vienna Beef, who with a partner bought Vienna Beef in the early 1980s. "We don't mind competing with somebody, but we mind somebody sticking their hand in our back pocket."

The Vienna lawsuit claims false advertising and unfair competition, centered around the 118-year-old recipe. Ladany worked at Vienna Beef until selling his stake in the business in 1983. The suit states that Ladany signed employment and severance agreements at the time of his departure, including a gag order about Vienna's secret recipes.

"They either stole them from us or they're lying to the public," Bodman said. "Either way, we're going find out (through the lawsuit)," he said. The suit came about after an ad in a food trade magazine by Red Hot Chicago claimed a 118-year-old hot dog tradition and referenced the Vienna name.

The suit asks for Red Hot Chicago to stop making misleading claims and pay Vienna monetary damages. It does not specify a dollar figure. A representative for Red Hot Chicago did not comment on the story.

Source: Chicago Tribune