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Kitchen Nightmares: The Spotted Pig

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Things are boiling over in the restaurant industry as Gordon Ramsay has applied to register a trade mark for ‘The Spotted Pig’ in the UK covering various food products and, importantly, restaurant services.

As readers might know, The Spotted Pig is a Michelin starred restaurant in New York City run by fellow Brit chef April Bloomfield, and boasts celebrity co-owners Jay-Z and Bono. The Spotted Pig is a hit in NYC serving ‘seasonal British and Italian, using local ingredients where possible’ and has been open since 2004.

Fellow chef Anthony Bourdain was not impressed that Ramsay had applied to register the mark, tweeting that it was ‘shameful’ and ‘pathetic’.

Having consulted the relevant trade mark registers, it doesn’t appear that April Bloomfield has any registered trade mark rights with effect in the UK for her ‘The Spotted Pig’ name.  Without her trading in the UK under the name, it is unlikely to be straightforward to prevent Ramsey’s registration.  In this regard, she does have until 8 January 2013 (extendable by one month) to oppose Ramsey’s application.  Presumably she will try her luck in arguing that The Spotted Pig name is well known in the UK and thus is protectable as a well-known mark under the Paris Convention or, perhaps, that the application was made in bad faith.  Both arguments are likely to require a fair bit of evidence and carefully crafted submissions by her attorneys.

Will April Bloomfield succeed in any challenge?  The proof will be in the pudding.

Rachel Cockin        29 November 2012

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