This week, luxury jeweler Fabergé filed a lawsuit against Brooklyn restaurant Faberge for what it has deemed a “shameless” appropriation of the jeweler’s famous mark and distinctive storefronts.
The original Fabergé was founded in 1842 in St. Petersburg, Russia, and has been most famous historically for designing elaborate jewel-encrusted Fabergé eggs for Russian Tsars and a range of other jewelry and luxury products sold internationally, including in New York. The restaurant/lounge opened last fall in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, New York, and offers a menu of steak, seafood and cocktails.
The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, asserts that Faberge’s restaurant exhibits “an effort to free-ride on the enormous good will” established by the jeweler and simply “confuse[s] consumers and members of the general public.”
The restaurant has responded that its name differs from the jeweler’s in that there is no accent on the final ‘E’ of the name, and the ‘A’ is shaped like the Eiffel Tower, thus distinguishing the restaurant’s mark from the jeweler’s. Even if the two marks are very similar, or even arguably the same, as we’ve previously discussed here on Trending Trademarks, trademark rights are typically limited to particular classes of goods or services; consequently, companies operating different types of businesses may often use the same trademark simultaneously. The owner of the restaurant rightfully pointed out that the two companies are in completely different and non-competing industries; fine jewelry versus food services.
These, however, may be distinctions without a difference. Owners of marks as famous as Fabergé have broader rights to use and defend their marks, including the right to prevent use of a confusingly similar mark if it is likely to generate confusion among consumers. It is also worth noting the restaurant’s façade, patterned in purple and gold diamonds (depicted above), which bears a striking similarity to the jeweler’s retail boutiques in London and Kiev. Finally, the complaint asserts that the restaurant’s menu “directly and obviously” alludes to the historical legacy of Fabergé (though specific items were not explicitly named). Considered as a whole, these facts could be sufficient evidence to support the restaurant owners’ bad faith and wilful misuse in adopting the name, look and feel of their establishment.
The case is Faberge Ltd. et al. v. Yusufov et al., case number 1:14-cv-03519, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.