California - The owners of the venerable Washington, D.C. institution Wisemiller's Grocery and Deli, affectionately known as Wisey's to its customers, sued a neighboring pizza parlor last month for ripping off its trademark name, logo and menu design in what Wisey's called a futile effort to promote its markedly inferior food offerings.
The pizzeria's actions present an "exceptionally blatant" case of intentional trademark infringement and unfair competition, Wisey's #1 LLC said in its September complaint against Davar Ashgrizzadeh and his business Nimellis Pizzeria LLC.
The pizzeria, which the Wisey's complaint calls "markedly inferior" to its business, was formerly known as Cafe Romeo's and is currently doing business as Wise Eats Cafe or simply Wiseats as of earlier this year.
"Defendants did not open another location, expand or even alter Cafe Romeo's," the complaint says. "Defendants simply began marketing their inferior but competing products and services under the confusingly similar Wiseats mark -- using a menu that mimics Wisey's distinctive and well-known menu in a manner that borders on counterfeiting -- for the sole purpose of trafficking of of Wisey's goodwill and reputation, and the strength of the Wisey's mark and menu."
Wisey's is a popular DC restaurant well-known for its carryout and delivery services, which it has marketed extensively and continuously in the DC metropolitan area for many years under the federally registered Wisey's trademark and its accompanying distinctive menu.
Ashgrizzadeh and his pizzeria, meanwhile, did not even try to disguise their willful infringement, instead choosing to "broadcast their bad faith" by using a nearly identical logo design and graphic, with a slogan that erases any remaining doubts regarding their knowledge and malicious intent, according to Wisey's.
"The willful and malicious nature of the defendants' conduct is beyond question," the complaint says.
Whereas Wisey's operates under the slogan "Eat Right. Eat Wisey's," Wiseats is now using the slogan "Eat Wise. Eat Wiseats," the complaint says. The logos also both feature the similar names and slogans in a similar arrangement within a green oval.
"Defendants are intentionally defrauding DC-area consumers and maliciously profiting by, quite literally, brazenly stealing and injuring the reputation and goodwill that Wisey's has spent years building," Wisey's says. "Defendants are competing in the exact same product market from a location on the exact same street as Wisey's, selling a knockoff product and hoping that unsuspecting consumers will not notice until it is too late to cancel their order."