The article "Mystic Pizza Sues Pennsylvania's Mystic Pizzeria" appeared in the Hartford Courant on Tuesday, March 5, 2019. Please answer the following: i) Who is the plaintiff in the case? ii) Who is the defendant? iii) In which court (and where) was the suit filed? iv) Do you think that Mystic Pizza will win their suit? If so, what type of remedy might they be awarded?

In the trademark infringement case described in "Mystic Pizza Sues Pennsylvania's Mystic Pizzeria for Trademark Infringement," published in the Hartford Courant in March 2019, the plaintiffs are the owners of Mystic Pizza, and the defendant is the owner of Mystic Pizzeria. The suit was filed in a federal court in Philadelphia. According to trademark law, it is possible that Mystic Pizza could win the suit and be awarded millions of dollars in damages.

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The article "Mystic Pizza Sues Pennsylvania's Mystic Pizzeria for Trademark Infringement," published in the Hartford Courant in March 2019, tells of a lawsuit for trademark infringement filed by Mystic Pizza, a small chain of restaurants in Connecticut, against Mystic Pizzeria, a restaurant in Pennsylvania. This makes the plaintiffs in the lawsuit Christos and John Zelepos, the owners of Mystic Pizza. The defendant would be Antonio Marques, who is listed as the owner of Mystic Pizzeria in the article. The last line of the article makes clear where the lawsuit was filed and what the plaintiffs are demanding:

The lawsuit, filed Thursday in a federal court in Philadelphia, seeks a court order against the pizzeria's use of the Mystic Pizza name and unspecified damages.

So, the lawsuit is all about the name Mystic Pizzeria being so similar to the name Mystic Pizza, which is a trademarked name, and the fact that the plaintiff thinks that the defendant deliberately made the name of his pizzeria sound like Mystic Pizza so he could profit off the similarity. The name Mystic Pizza became famous when the movie of the same name starring Julia Roberts came out in 1988. According to the article, Mystic Pizzeria opened several years after this time, so it is possible that the owner had Mystic Pizza's popularity in mind when he named his restaurant.

According to the US Patent and Trademark Office, or USPTO, "a trademark is a brand name" which is "to be used to identify and distinguish the goods/services of one seller or provider from those of others." The USPTO states that the registration of a trademark is not mandatory, but registration makes it easier to prove "exclusive right to use the mark." The article implies that Mystic Pizza's trademark was in fact registered. This is what the USPTO says about infringement:

To support a trademark infringement claim in court, a plaintiff must prove that it owns a valid mark, that it has priority (its rights in the mark(s) are "senior" to the defendant's), and that the defendant's mark is likely to cause confusion in the minds of consumers about the source or sponsorship of the goods or services offered under the parties' marks.

Trademark owners can also "claim trademark dilution," which means that another business's use of a similar mark might diminish the value of the trademark. Cybersquatting is similar to trademark infringement, but it takes place on the internet.

It is up to your personal opinion whether Mystic Pizza will win the suit, but a couple of major examples of trademark litigation might help. When Steve Jobs chose Apple Computer for the name of his company, Apple Corps, the music business founded by the Beatles, sued for trademark infringement. At first, the case was settled when Apple Computer promised to stay out of the music business, but later it took over all trademarks related to the word Apple and licensed the name to Apple Corps. Recently, Variety Stores sued Walmart over the use of its trademarked name "Backyard," and Walmart was forced to pay almost $100 million in damages. It is possible that a court might find in favor of Mystic Pizza, and if so, since Mystic Pizzeria has been using the name for over 25 years, it might have to pay a significant amount in damages.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
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The plaintiffs in the case of Mystic Pizza LLC v. Mystic Pizza Company are John and Christos Zelepos,* owners of the Mystic Pizza restaurant in Connecticut, which provided the name and location for the romantic comedy film, Mystic Pizza, released in 1988. The defendants are Antonio and Helder Marques, owners of the Mystic Pizza Company in Pennsylvania. The plaintiffs filed suit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, with complaints including trademark infringement and unfair competition. They allege that the defendants are attempting to pretend that they are the Pennsylvania branch of the original Mystic Pizza restaurant, and to gain custom by so doing.

Given the similarity of the names, and the fame of Connecticut's Mystic Pizza restaurant, it seems likely that the plaintiffs will win the case. In such an event, they are likely to be awarded costs, but little in the way of damages, unless they can prove that they have suffered financial loss or loss of reputation as a direct result of confusion between the two restaurants. The main remedy will be an injunction preventing the defendants from calling their restaurant "Mystic Pizza" or anything similar. The name "Mystic Pizzeria" is used on the defendants' website alongside "Mystic Pizza," and this would also be disallowed by the court.

*The official filing shows the owners listed alongside their companies in the case of both plaintiffs and defendants.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
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