Katz’s Deli Sues Florida Upstart For Unauthorized Use of Legendary Name (Updated)
Katz’s Deli has been a Lower East Side mainstay for 126 years, but now there’s a second Katz’s Deli in Deerffield Beach, Florida, and its presence is not sitting too well with the owners of the New York City original. A short time ago, we spoke with Jake Dell, whose family owns the world-famous Ludlow Street institution. He said a trademark infringement lawsuit would be filed in Manhattan federal court later today. The suit asks for $1 million in damages.
Dell indicated he first started talking with the owner of the Florida restaurant a couple of months ago. “He stalled and stalled,” said Dell. “We gave him plenty of time,” but there was no response. We have placed a call to the Deerfield Beach establishment and will update this post if the owner calls us back. We’ll also have more details from the legal filing itself once they’re available.
Earlier this year, Katz’s prevailed in another trademark infringement case, after suing the New York-based Katz & Dogz food cart.
UPDATED 6/13, 9 a.m.: Details from the lawsuit, which was filed in Manhattan federal court. The filing states that “Katz’s Deli is an indisputable New York institution that has delighted patrons with authentic Jewish deli food for 125 years.” It goes on to establish the restaurant’s iconic status, including the deli’s inclusion in many films, from “Harry Met Sally” to “Donnie Brasco.” The lawsuit indicates that Katz’s has owned the federal trademark on its name since 1992. Charles Re, the owner of the Florida establishment, stole the name to “unlawfully capitalize on the fame of Katz’s Deli,” the lawsuit alleges.
The document includes photos from the Deerfield Beach restaurant, noting that the logo used inside and outside the business appears similar to the logo of the New York original. The lawsuit concludes:
Defendants’ foregoing activities have irreparably damaged Plaintiff and have further caused Plaintiff monetary damages in an amount as yet unknown, but if Defendants’ foregoing activities continue, it is believed that the damage to Plaintiff will exceed $1,000,000. Defendants’ wrongful acts have caused and will continue to cause Plaintiff to suffer irreparable harm for which it has no adequate remedy at law… The foregoing activities of Defendants are intended to mislead the public to think that there is an association, sponsorship or endorsement from the Plaintiff, and said activities take control of the reputation and goodwill of Katz’s Deli from Plaintiff, the proprietor of the goodwill of the KATZ’S Trademarks in the United States and elsewhere in the world.
UPDATED 6/13, 12:52 p.m. We just heard from Charles Re, owner of the Deerfield Beach restaurant. “Our understanding,” he said “is that Katz’s (in New York City) didn’t have an active trademark” at the time the Florida restaurant opened. Although the trademark dates back to 1992, he contends that it was allowed to lapse for a period of time.
Mr. Re said “there are probably six or so different restaurants named Katz’s on the east coast and in Texas. “I’m not sure why they’re going after us,” he remarked. “Maybe they need the publicity.” Re said he spoke with Jake Dell earlier this week and proposed a “simple solution,” in which the Dell family would pay him to change signage and menus. Re said he missed a return call from Dell but had every intention of getting back to him. “Next thing I know,” Re said, “the lawsuit is in the press.”
Re, who grew up in the Bronx, said he named the new restaurant Katz’s because an establishment using the name recently went out of business in a neighboring town. He insisted the decision was in no way meant to take advantage of the famous New York deli’s reputation.