Two Italian restaurants in Dallas are currently in a legal battle over their similar names. According to WFAA, Carbone’s Fine Food and Wine LLC levied a lawsuit against a newcomer restaurant called Carbone LLC. The suit claims customers will get confused over the similar names and frequently enter one restaurant thinking it is the other.
Julian Barsotti, the executive chef and owner of Carbone’s Fine Food and Wine, claims in the lawsuit that the name “Carbone’s” has been in use in Dallas since 2011. Barsotti’s restaurant first opened in April of 2012.
An attorney for Carbone’s stated in the lawsuit, “For years, whenever consumers have seen the CARBONE’S mark either in the restaurant, on pre-packaged foods, or via carryout and catering, they have recognized the CARBONE’S mark as an indicator of the high quality that consumers have come to expect from Plaintiff.”
The lawsuit claims that the new Carbone LLC wants to confuse customers on purpose, so they buy the other restaurant’s pre-packaged sauce, thinking it comes from Carbone’s Wine and Food. According to WFAA, the prices and logos are similar, potentially causing inattentive customers to buy the wrong product.
“By using a nearly identical mark (Carbone’s v Carbone) in association with the same goods and services (Italian restaurants and pre-packaged foods), consumers are and will be confused, misled, or deceived as to the source of the goods and services,” the Carbone’s lawsuit claims.
Barsotti told NBC 5 that his restaurant was named for his great-grandfather, a first-generation Italian American.
“[It’s] really paying homage to that type of food and using our proud familial history as a point of inspiration,” he said.
The new Carbone restaurant originated in New York and opened in Dallas three months ago, NBC 5 reported.
Barsotti explained that since then, around 1,400 confused customers have called his restaurant. It has also received reviews meant for the new Carbone.
He told NBC 5 that the entire situation has been “mass confusion on all levels.”
Barsotti’s restaurant has also received deliveries meant for Carbone. According to him, a local grocery store has also been confused by the similar names: next to a display of Carbone sauces, it had the Carbone’s logo.
“If you could have one snapshot of something that, to me … is evidence of complete confusion, it would be that picture,” Barsotti told NBC 5.
He added, “All we want is to keep our name in the state of Texas and have the ability to sell our products in the state of Texas.”
A Dallas trademark litigator who is not part of the case, Chris Schwegmann, told NBC 5 that these types of cases rely on proving confusion. Schwegmann added that Barsotti’s case has multiple examples.
“What will make or break this case is one or the other of the parties showing that they used Carbone or Carbone’s first in commerce,” he said.
Carbone, of the parent company Major Food Group, has not responded to requests for comment.