March 02, 2015

Restaurateurs Squeal When Ramsay Registers "THE SPOTTED PIG"

by Stites & Harbison, PLLC

Restauranteurs wanted to hogtie Gordon Ramsay when they found out he'd applied to register the mark THE SPOTTED PIG in the United Kingdom.On October 2, 2012, Ramsay, a famous British television chef, applied to register the mark in the name of Gordon Ramsay Holdings International Ltd. A spokesperson for Ramsay said that Ramsay's restaurant groups regularly sought trademarks, even without current plans to actively use them. I say, "hogwash!" So did other famous chefs like Anthony Bourdain. In fact, Bourdain said the attempt to use the name was shameful. Why file a trademark application with no good faith intent to use it?

The Spotted Pig

Interesting, chef Bloomfield and the Spotted Pig's founder, Ken Friedman, had previously expressed opening a restaurant in London, but had no pending plans to do so. Perhaps this was an attempt to block Bloomfield and Friedman from doing so in London? This controversy dragged on for approximately four months, ending with Ramsay making a statement that his application was simply "an innocent mistake." Ultimately, the registration for THE SPOTTED PIG issued in the U.K., and Ramsay promptly transferred it over to the owners of the Spotted Pig in the name Biergarten, LLC.

This does, however, highlight a problem with protecting intellectual property globally. Trademark rights are generally geographic in scope, so, as in the case with THE SPOTTED PIG, it is possible for some trademarks to be registered in different countries by different owners. Simply because one has rights in a mark in the United States does not mean it has rights in another jurisdiction. One should consider registering its mark in any countries in which it currently offers products or services under that mark. One should also consider filing applications for registration in those countries where one intends to use the mark for its products or services in the future. It is important to note that use of a mark is not required before filing an application in the U.S., nor is it required in most foreign countries.

Interestingly, Ramsay's application for THE SPOTTED PIG in the United Kingdom did not prompt the owners to file an application for registration in the United States. In fact, the application for registration of THE SPOTTED PIG for use in connection with restaurant and bar services was just filed in January 2015. Next time I'm in NYC, I'll definitely be vising The Spotted Pig. Check out this video to learn more about it:

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