Blood & Sand Sues Restaurant in New York for Trademark Infringement [UPDATED]

Categories: Restaurant News

bloodandsandlawsuit.jpg
The bar at Blood & Sand. | Jennifer Silverberg

Members-only restaurant and bar Blood & Sand (1500 St. Charles Street; 314-241-7263) has filed a lawsuit against a restaurant and bar also called Blood & Sand in Buffalo, New York. The St. Louis restaurant is suing over trademark infringement -- it owns "Blood & Sand" when it has anything to do with restaurants. "Instances of actual confusion have occurred because of Defendant's use of Blood & Sand," the suit alleges.

See also: Tom Colicchio On Tatyana Telnikova's Decision to Change Craft Art Bar Name: "Wise"

UPDATE (8/4/14, 12:32 p.m.): It looks like Buffalo Blood & Sand has thrown in the towel. It's taking suggestions for a new name, though, our favorite of which is "Hemoglobin & Salt."

The lawsuit enumerates several ways in which the Buffalo Blood & Sand is easily confused with the St. Louis Blood & Sand: a similar old-timey logo, almost identical concept and, most tellingly, its website URL. We have to concede that www.bloodandsandstl.com and www.bloodandsandbuffalo.com do seem to imply different locations of the same restaurant.

The St. Louis restaurant, which is owned by Adam Frager and TJ Vytlacil, says it has been using the name since at least 2009; the Buffalo restaurant's Facebook page says it will open August 15, 2014 (though the lawsuit states it has been open since July 24).

Frager and Vytlacil recently expanded their brand (sort of) to lunchtime spot Death in the Afternoon (808 Chestnut Street; 314-621-3236) at Citygarden, which works as a foil to Blood & Sand. In the lawsuit, though, it says "Blood & Sand has been endeavoring the expansion of the Blood & Sand brand nationally," which we find to be the most curious part of the whole matter.

Blood & Sand is asking for the Buffalo restaurant to stop using the name (or "any other confusingly similar name"), pay actual and punitive damages and reimburse it for the cost of the lawsuit.

Calls to Blood & Sand Buffalo resulted in a high-pitched tone instead of a voicemail box, and emails for comment were not immediately returned. Messages left for Frager and Vytlacil were not immediately returned, either.

UPDATE (8/1): The Buffalo restaurant's website www.bloodandsandbuffalo.com is no longer live, but you can access a cached copy.

You can read the full filing here:

Blood & Sand Lawsuit

Gut Check is always hungry for tips and feedback. E-mail the author at Nancy.Stiles@RiverfrontTimes.com.

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13 comments
Mandy Jaspering
Mandy Jaspering

Charles, it's easily remedied by specifying a particular font, or adding on additional words. Trust me, I was in the same camp as everyone else here, but learned it really boils down to whomever has the most time and money to win. You can do a quick trademark search for Mangia for instance, to see what I'm referring to. Unless you trademark every font face, in every color, with every conceivable logo, with every imaginable word afterwards, trademarks are limited to very specific parameters that are easy to work around.

Charles Chaney
Charles Chaney

Mandy, when you have a trade mark that pertains to a certain department, such as in conjunction with a restaurant & bar, it DOES mean it is enforceable. I speak as someone who owns a couple of trade marks. If you don't enforce your trademark, you're liable to lose it. Owners must police and enforce their trademarks or risk losing their rights by abandoning their trademarks, improperly licensing a trademark or letting a trademark become generic.

Collier Evans
Collier Evans

If they have a FEDERAL trademark there isn't much of an argument if the plantiff is operating inside the United States. Megan is right.

Mandy Jaspering
Mandy Jaspering

Nevermind Megan, I did it for you. Blood and Sand in Buffalo threw in the towel: Dear Buffalo, Due to an unfortunate series of legal complications, we are no longer moving forward with the name "blood and sand". In the grand scheme of things, this is truly a minor set back, and we will still be opening doors on the 15th of August. In the meantime, we are taking suggestions for new names. Do you have any great ideas you'd like to share with us? This should be interesting;) Thanks again for your incredible support, and we will notify you as soon as we have a new page for you to like. Cheers Buffalo!

Mandy Jaspering
Mandy Jaspering

Wow, wasn't expecting so much response! I'm not a trademark professional, but I recently attended several presentations and talks pertaining to such. In the case of Bellagio, it would be contested as it is nationally recognized. As for Taste, they shared the same market and caused consumer confusion. Just because a person has a trademark, doesn't make it enforceable in all cases, and in the case of an arguably generic term, or rather, a term that has been in public usage for nearly 100 years, I don't see it being winnable. I don't think they can argue that Blood and Sand in Buffalo is creating confusion among its potential customers. I'm sure I can count on Megan to let me know if I am wrong, however.

Kristina Cheeseman
Kristina Cheeseman

Blood & Sands negative yelp reviews, and responses are absolutely hilarious. So, if bored, I'd recommend.

Megan Knaus
Megan Knaus

If it wasn't enforceable companies would not go through the arduous and expensive process of trademarking. Or, for that matter actually follow through with litigation to protect their brand. So yeah, you're wrong.

Collier Evans
Collier Evans

Taste also stopped Taste Wood Fired Fare from using "Taste". I think they ended up changing the name to "Twin Oaks" Wood Fired Fare

Robin Gray
Robin Gray

Il Bel Lago on Olive was originally Bellagio and they were sued by The Bellagio in Vegas and had to change their name. Mangia the restaurant stopped the food truck Mangia, Mangia from using the name.

Mandy Jaspering
Mandy Jaspering

Even given those conditions, it'll be tough to reconcile their name as an enforceable trademark.

Riverfront Times
Riverfront Times

You're right -- that's where they got the name. But, they DO own a federal trademark when using the name in conjunction with a restaurant and bar.

Mandy Jaspering
Mandy Jaspering

Losing battle. It's the name of a drink from the 1920's as well as two movies. I doubt they're even the first to name their restaurant by that name and won't be the last.

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