Vienna Beef is suing a descendant of one of the Chicago-based company's founders, claiming trademark infringement, false advertising and unfair competition.
The suit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Chicago claims Scott Ladany's company, Red Hot Chicago, either ripped off Vienna's 118-year-old recipe or is falsely claiming its hot dogs are authentic.
Vienna Chief Executive Jim Bodman tells the Chicago Tribune that the "`great Chicago wienie wars" have him red hot.
The lawsuit seeking unspecified damages says Ladany, grandson of Vienna founder Samuel Ladany, sold his stake in 1983 and his severance included a gag order about Vienna's secret recipes.
A man who answered the phone at Ladany's Food Enterprises of Chicago, operator of Red Hot Chicago, declined comment, saying, "We're too busy just trying to run our business."