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Trademark lawsuit over name of new Italian restaurant on Newbury Street gets ugly

When local chefs Jamie Bissonnette and Ken Oringer went before the Boston Licensing Board for approval to open a new Italian place on Newbury Street called Faccia Brutta, which means "ugly face" in Italian, their attorney said they chose the name because they wanted to show that even though they were serious about their food, "they don't take themselves too seriously."

A Brooklyn company that distills organic Italian-style liqueurs, called Faccia Brutto (yes, with an 'o'), however, is not amused: The company today filed a trademark lawsuit against the two chefs, alleging people are already getting the two ventures confused and that the restaurateurs refused a request to pick a different name.

In its suit, filed in US District Court in Boston, Faccia Brutto, whose founder himself comes from a restaurant family, claims:

Almost immediately after Defendant’s restaurant opened, consumer confusion ensued, and Faccia Brutto received multiple inquiries regarding a perceived connection between Defendant’s restaurant and Faccia Brutto’s beverage products.

It pointed to a comment on the restaurant's Instagram page from somebody who said the two names made it sound like the restaurant had something to do with the cordials.

In fact, the company avers, the two chefs knew about the Brooklyn company because just a few weeks before opening on May 24, they decided to include a Faccia Brutto beverage on their menu.

Faccia Brutto says that when it complained about the confusingly similar names, the restaurant's response was to offer to remove the beverage from the menu, not change the name of the restaurant.

The company also claims the restaurant logo is confusingly similar to the company logo.

The company is asking a judge to order the two chefs to immediately stop calling their restaurant "Ugly Face" and to pay them all the profits they've made so far, plus damages and legal fees.

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Comments

not the best name for a place where you are going to eat. And I think even an "Italian" would know this lol

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Voting closed 8

So no one can ever use the phrase “faccia brutto “ or “faccia brutta” because some slobs paid a gov agency to say it’s their creation. Lol so silly

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Voting closed 10

I mean, I'm not either, but there's a reason trademarks exist. Whether this is a valid suit or not, I guess we'll find out.

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Voting closed 34

Many years ago the owner of a restaurant in Baltimore trademarked the name of the restaurant: "Hon." In Baltimore parlance this is "Hon" is a polite and even sweet honorific. Yet the owner was allowed to copyright the term making its use in any profit venture illegal without her permission.

She was granted the legal right but she lost the moral battle.

Also in Baltimore there was a small restaurant called Sony's. That was the nickname of the owner. The great Sony Corporation threatened to put her out of business if she didn't change the name. Again, they had the law on their side but morally they were wrong.

Sometimes what is lawful is also immoral. Just as sometimes declaring something illegal is itself also immoral.

When trademarks law is so rigid that it is enforced with a a severity that would allow a corporation that is 200 miles away, or $2 billion wealthier, to prevent the use of a name or language that is common in its context, then that law is not inflexible, but is a law which is justified and maintained solely by cash and power. Making that law immoral.

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Voting closed 14

This is not how trademark law works. As referenced in the original story, there has to be confusion for a successful claim. Do you think people were going into that restaurant thinking they were going to pick up a flat screen?

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Voting closed 20

is so that companies can meaningfully have reputations that do not overlap with each other, and so that one company cannot effectively impersonate another one to ride on its reputation or -- mess up the first one's reputation by using a confusingly similar name.

So yes, you pay to register a trademark on a given name/symbol within a specific field of commerce (e.g. food & drink), and as long as you are using it, you get to keep that exclusivity.

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Voting closed 26

To conflate the two is absurd and a Trumpian grotesquery of legal abuse.

Commerce is too and stupidly broad. On the other hand, I will trademark the term "Lemonade Stand" and make a pretty penny suing the parents, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and any organization that infringes on that trademark.

ALL OVER THE NATION!

Realistically, I sense that there is bad blood behind this lawsuit. That it has nothing to do with actual trademark infringement and more to do with O wanting to hurt A.

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Voting closed 10

I will trademark the term "Lemonade Stand"

Tell me you don't understand trademark law without telling me you don't understand trademark law.

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Voting closed 27

It's pretty common for businesses in different states to both hold a trademark to the same name -- if the trademark is registered at the *state* level. A restaurant with a single location would only realistically need a state-level trademark.

But maybe that cordial company is selling nationwide -- for which it would be reasonable to apply for a federal trademark. And federal would override state.

(I haven't looked at the facts of this case. But this is a factor you don't seem to know about.)

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Voting closed 5

Once the NYC BOS seaplane service started and the throngs of Brooklynite diners started traipsing up here for an ugly face fix, who didn't anticipate mass confusion and angst?

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Voting closed 30

.. should lose based on offense to the Italian language alone. Faccia Brutta is correct: feminine noun feminine form of the adjective. Faccia Brutto is an abomination. Alla faccia di Faccia Brutto!!!

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Voting closed 24

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And that's all I have to say about that.

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Voting closed 8

Inferno, Canto XXI, Verse 139, for those keeping score

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Voting closed 9

The grammar has nothing to do with copying someone’s logo, font, and 99% of their name.

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Voting closed 1

But the Frankie Coffee Cake scene in Good Fellas is a classic! Actually the whole film is a masterpiece.

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Voting closed 4

I’m surprised there hasn’t been a dust up regarding the name “Blue Ribbon” which is the longtime close suburb BBQ joint(s) and the name of a NYC restaurant operator coming to Kenmore Sq. The logos on Hotel Commonwealth even look similar. I’d definitely assume they were the same group if I didn’t know better.

I’m not sure which one came first. It’s not exactly a unique name but it is well known as a specific restaurant to diners in the Boston area.

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Voting closed 10

I will never speak another word to you again, Settimia.

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Voting closed 5

And the lawyers just get richer.

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Voting closed 2