Hard Rock Café Chain Sued for Trademark Infringement

By Joseph Mandour on November 28, 2011

hard_rock_cafe-thumb-200x266-30884 San Diego – The internationally-known Hard Rock Café chain is being sued for trademark infringement in Las Vegas by England’s Cavern Club, known as the birthplace of the Beatles.

The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court, is accusing Florida-based Hard Rock Café International of trademark infringement because it has recently opened a small events room called “The Cavern Club” in one of its Las Vegas locations. In its lawsuit, the Cavern Club of Liverpool, England claims that it is a legendary nightclub, which opened in 1957, and was made famous after the Beatles gave hundreds of performances there. The lawsuit also claims that the Cavern Club was known for hosting other famous acts like the Rolling Stones, the Yardbirds, Elton John, the Kinks, and The Who.

Apparently, the Cavern Club and Hard Rock Café International, which owns restaurants, hotels, and casinos all over the world, have disagreed in the past regarding Hard Rock’s use of the Cavern Club trademark. The Cavern Club owns trademark rights to that name in the United Kingdom, Australia, Hong Kong, Canada, Brazil, and the twenty-five European Community nations, while Hard Rock owns the U.S. trademark for the Cavern Club name.

The Cavern Club’s recent trademark infringement lawsuit is in response to the September 29th court decision that will allow Hard Rock to uphold its U.S. rights to the trademark. That decision was made by the U.S. Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, which dismissed the Cavern Club’s 2005 opposition to the Hard Rock’s trademark registration.

In addition to alleging trademark infringement, last week’s lawsuit is also accusing the Hard Rock of violating Nevada’s business practices and alleges common law unfair competition. Lawyers for the Cavern Club called the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board’s September 29th ruling “erroneous” and say that the Hard Rock’s use of the trademark “is likely to cause and has caused confusion, mistake or deception” as to whether the Hard Rock venues are associated to Liverpool’s Cavern Club.

While the Cavern Club can claim that its trademark is famous and thus that it gained some rights in the U.S., it appears that the Cavern Club may regret not protecting its trademark in the U.S. long ago. Owned by Florida’s Seminole Indian tribe, Hard Rock Café International has two cafes in Las Vegas. However it does not own the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. It remains tangled up in a separate trademark litigation with the hotel/casino.

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