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Brennan's, Inc. v. Brennan's Rest., LLC. - 2003 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3974 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 17, 2003)

Rule:

The crucial issue in an action for trademark infringement or unfair competition is whether there is any likelihood that an appreciable number of ordinarily prudent purchasers will be misled, or simply confused, as to the source of the goods in question.

Facts:

Plaintiff owns and operates a restaurant in New Orleans, opened in 1946, named Brennan's. Plaintiff has registered that name pursuant to the Lanham Act as a trademark for restaurant services.  Defendants own and operate a restaurant in New York City, opened on or about November 28, 2002, named Terrance Brennan's Seafood and Chop House. Terrance Brennan operates Terrance Brennan's Seafood and Chop House. He was given the name Terrance Brennan at birth. Prior to opening the restaurant at issue here, he had opened two restaurants in New York City, Picholine and Artisanal, which he continues to operate. Plaintiff moves, by order to show cause, for a preliminary injunction against defendants' use of the name "Brennan's" as, or as a part of, any mark applied to defendants' restaurant. 

Issue:

Was there a likelihood of consumer confusion in the trademark as to warrant the issuance of a preliminary injunction?

Answer:

No

Conclusion:

Although the court credited the New Orleans restaurant's expert testimony of truncation of the "Terrance" from the New Yorker's name, the court found the geographical distance between the markets served by the two competitors tipped the Polaroid factors balance in favor of the New Yorker. The disruption of defendants' business that would flow from any requirement that it change its name would work a greater hardship than plaintiff suffering such confusion or dilution, if any, that might possibly occur prior to trial. Clientele for the restaurants would depend less on the conflicting names and more on their own individual dining experiences.

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