Louisiana businesses will inevitably rely on a name and the recognition of that name to help their bottom line. Often, success or failure goes beyond the simple reality of having a good product to sell, but in having a known name that customers trust and associate with getting what they want. However, there are instances in which the name of a building can result in business disputes, intellectual property disputes and other disagreements. It is in these circumstances that having an understanding of business law shows its true value.
A 19th Century building that had been refurbished and rehabilitated by a company after Hurricane Katrina and was transformed into a modern business is the subject of a dispute between the company and the city of New Orleans. The city has filed a lawsuit against the holders of the lease alleging that it is using the name — St. Roch Market — inappropriately by getting a trademark and opening another location in Florida with the same name.
The company that owns the lease spent more than $3 million to repair the building. It went from selling po’boys and fish to a food hall where many different options are available to the public. The leaseholders then started a different company that owned the original company and trademarked the name “St. Roch Market.” It subsequently opened the location in Florida. The leaseholders did not inform the city that there was an application for a trademark or that they were opening another location. The city has filed a lawsuit asserting unauthorized use of the name and trademark infringement.
When a successful business is created, there comes a certain amount of risk. Even when there are agreements between entities as to how the business will move forward, there can be disagreements over certain aspects such as names, trademarks and who has the right to use them. When dealing with such a complex situation as attempts to expand while using names that might or might not be available, it is critical to understand the law so that appropriate choices can be made.
Source: nola.com, “Who owns ‘St. Roch Market’? City of New Orleans sues over name,” Todd A. Price, April 14, 2018