Spearmint Rhino Sues Peppermint Hippo in Strip Club Stand-Off

Today’s thing everyone should’ve seen coming: The Spearmint Rhino strip club is suing Peppermint Hippo. Which is also a strip club. What else would it be?

According to the legal complaint, Spearmint Rhino is suing Peppermint Hippo for “trademark infringement, unfair competition and activities that are likely to, or have, cause confusion or dilute Spearmint Rhino’s trademarks.”

When we learned about this legal battle, we thought about gauging public opinion by taking a poll. That’s the joke. We’ll wait.

Yes, A.I. generated images of strippers wrestling, but we knew you’d enjoy this one more.

Spearmint Rhino has been around since 1992. Peppermint Hippo opened in 2022, in the building that previously housed Olympic Garden (officially, OG’s Gentlemen’s Club & Male Revue).

The owner of Peppermint Hippo says the name of the club was inspired by a fictional strip club on “South Park.” We are not sure the owner of Peppermint Hippo, David Chang, is helping his case. “South Park” was obviously referencing Spearmint Rhino, which undermines Chang’s position a smidge.

“South Park” was parody. Peppermint Hippo, not so much.

Through a rep, Chang said, “The strip club war is on! We won’t let this ridiculous lawsuit discredit us. In the wild, hippos and rhinos co-exist. Why not Vegas?”

A novel legal argument, to say the least.

Complicating matters further, David Chang was Director of Business Development for Spearmint Rhino from 2005 to 2015, according to his LinkedIn profile.

At first glance, or as our fellow lawyers call it, “prima facie,” we thought this lawsuit was a slam dunk.

Peppermint Hippo is clearly exploiting the brand of its more famous and long-established competitor. Peppermint Hippo is absolutely relying on customer confusion between the two brands. Shortest legal battle, ever. Peppermint Hippo has to pay damages and rebrand and whatnot.

Here’s the Spearmint Rhino complaint in .pdf format, in case you’d like to get into the weeds.

Then we realized this isn’t an open and shut case, at all. Why? Peppermint Hippo hired our lawyer. That’s right. Marc Randazza ran circles around Sahara and its asshat owner, Alex Meruelo, successfully handing their collective asses to them in their frivolous lawsuit against us. They paid all our legal fees, and it was glorious.

We know Marc Randazza mostly as a First Amendment lawyer, and father of Nevada’s anti-SLAPP statute (which protects free speech), but if we were Spearmint Rhino, his participation in the case might give us pause.

Here’s Peppermint Hippo’s answer (.pdf format) to Spearmint Rhino’s complaint.

The answer is pretty much just denying everything in Spearmint Rhino’s complaint, but we suspect as this case gets going in earnest, Randazza is going to whip out his giant legal brain and the outcome seems much less certain.

Marc Randazza
Not all heroes wear capes, but some carry a big “nolle prosequi,” whatever those might actually be.

Even with Randazza involved, the Lanham Act (covering trademark infringement, trademark dilution and false advertising) has been around since 1946, so this could be an uphill battle for the defendant.

Marc Randazza is a wild card, though. In the middle of oral arguments in Sahara’s losing lawsuit against us, Randazza referred to the main argument of Meruelo’s attorney-slash-buffoon as “adorable.” It was epic. Sahara never prevailed in any of its myriad motions or appeals, all attempts to shut us up. We don’t shut up and we definitely don’t reveal sources, which was Sahara’s main concern and demand to dismiss the lawsuit during its months of legal bullying.

As we are not technically a lawyer, we won’t make any predictions about how this lawsuit will unfold. The story will, however, require further investigation on our part.

We are a huge fan of Spearmint Rhino, but haven’t been to Peppermint Hippo. It’s clear that to fully understand what’s at stake in this lawsuit, we will have to spend a good deal of time at both establishments to get a sense of who the players are and what it all means for the Las Vegas strip club landscape. While a huge inconvenience, we will probably have to do extensive interviews with employees of these establishments. Never fear, we will pursue this story with the dogged determination you have come to expect from this blog.

Be sure we will report anything that results from our dogged-style investigation into this ongoing legal williwaw.