Restaurants in dispute over similar name

By Pankaj Ladhar of Manos • Alwine P.L.

Owners of two similarly named Chinese restaurants in Miami Beach have taken their argument to the courtroom. The owner of a high end Chinese franchise, Mr. Chow, is bringing a federal lawsuit against the owner of “Philippe by Philippe Chow.”

The owner of Mr. Chow has a successful franchise of restaurants and is suing the owner of Philippe for trademark infringement. The suit claims that the new restaurant is trying to cash in on the style, ambiance, name, and even recipes of Mr. Chow. The owner of Philippe’s is a former employee of Mr. Chow. The owner of Philippe’s struck out on his own with the help of some high profile financial backing and is seeking to create his own chain up opscale Chinese restaurants.

The owner of Mr. Chow is seeking $20 million in damages. The proprietor claims that the owner of Philippe’s is training to present himself as the “original Chow.” For his part, the owner of Philippe’s says that he actually created much of Mr. Chow’s menu and is countersuing for defamation.

It may turn out to be a celebrity studded trial as numerous current and former athletes from the NFL and NBA are financial backers of Philippe’s establishment and plan to testify in court. They are expected to contend that the owner of Mr. Chow is the figurehead of the company, not the chef, thus helping to diffuse the claims of recipe theft. The owner of Mr. Chow is also bringing a lawsuit against an hotelier who has a hotel and restaurant called Mr. C. The owner of Mr. Chow claims that this is too similar to the name of his establishment.

Source: Miami Herald, “Chow vs. Chow: Miami Beach feud food lands in federal court,” Adam Beasley, Jan. 12, 2012