Hard Rock Café chain faces Las Vegas trademark lawsuit
27 November 2011
England’s Cavern Club, known as the birthplace of the Beatles, hit the international Hard Rock chain with a lawsuit Sunday in Las Vegas alleging trademark infringement.
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court, complained Florida-based Hard Rock Café International has recently opened a small events room called “The Cavern Club” in one of its Las Vegas locations.
Hard Rock Café International owns restaurants, clubs, casinos and hotels around the world and also licenses that name.
The Cavern Club in Liverpool said in the lawsuit that it is a "legendary nightclub" that opened in 1957. In 1961 the Beatles made their first appearance there and would go on to perform there nearly 300 times, the suit says.
It says the Cavern Club has also hosted the Rolling Stones, the Yardbirds, the Kinks, Elton John and The Who.
The lawsuit indicates the Cavern Club and the international Hard Rock company have butted heads before over the Cavern Club trademark.
The Cavern Club owns the trademark rights to that name in the United Kingdom, the 25 European Community nations, Australia, Hong Kong, Brazil and Canada, the lawsuit says.
But Hard Rock Café International has a U.S. trademark for the Cavern Club name and Sunday’s lawsuit sought to overturn a Sept. 29 decision upholding its U.S. rights to the mark.
That decision was made by the U.S. Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, which dismissed the Cavern Club’s challenge dating to 2005 to that trademark registration.
Besides the Las Vegas location using the Cavern Club name, Hard Rock has a club in Boston that has also used the Cavern Club name for a special events room and performance space, the lawsuit says.
The suit calls the U.S. Trademark Trial and Appeal Board decision rejecting the Cavern Club’s challenge of the Hard Rock-owned trademark “erroneous” and says Hard Rock’s use of the name “is likely to cause and has caused confusion, mistake or deception” as to whether the Hard Rock-owned venues are affiliated with the U.K.’s Cavern Club.
Besides alleging trademark infringement, Sunday’s lawsuit alleges violations of Nevada’s deceptive business practices act and alleges common law unfair competition.
Hard Rock Cafe International, which is owned by Florida’s Seminole Indian tribe, has two cafes in Las Vegas. That chain also has its origins in London, opening its first cafe there in 1971.
Hard Rock Cafe International does not own the Hard Rock hotel-casino in Las Vegas and remains tied up in separate trademark litigation with the hotel-casino.
A request for comment on the lawsuit was placed with Hard Rock.
Sunday's suit was filed by attorneys Paul Rapp in Housatonic, Mass.; and Mark Borghese in Las Vegas.
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