Los Angeles Team Secures Significant Victory for Restaurant Chain in IP Suit

Los Angeles, Calif. (July 8, 2020) - Los Angeles Partners Thomas S. Kiddé and Leo A. Bautista recently secured a significant victory in a right of publicity/trademark dispute when the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California awarded our client, a vegan restaurant chain, attorneys’ fees and costs and denied the plaintiff’s motion for a retrial. The decision, which was reported in Law360, concluded that the plaintiff’s motion failed to include any evidence, in the form of a memorandum or otherwise, in support of her request for a new trial.

In the underlying matter, we represented Native Foods Holdings Corporation (Native Foods) as well as two of its former officers against the plaintiff, known as “Chef Tanya,” who founded Native Foods in 1994 and later sold the business to our client. The plaintiff sued our client, contending that it breached the parties’ separation agreement by continuing to use her name and likeness, which she contended were her trademarks and violated her right of publicity to promote its business.

As described in our news post from September 2019, following a trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of our client. The jury determined that although Native Foods continued to display the plaintiff’s name and likeness without her consent in some isolated instances, its actions caused no harm to her and conferred no benefit upon Native Foods and that such were not trademarks.

In October 2019, the plaintiff filed a half-page “notice of motion and motion for new trial,” which stated that the motion was based on the plaintiff’s memorandum of points and authorities, declarations, exhibits, and other court documents. However, the plaintiff did not attach or submit any of these materials. Messrs. Kiddé and Bautista opposed the motion, and the plaintiff did not file a reply.

Reasoning that the plaintiff failed to provide any evidence in support of her motion for a new trial, the court denied her motion and awarded our client fees and costs in the amount of $763,694. The court also ordered these fees and costs to be supplemented with amounts incurred subsequent to the filing of our fee motion.

Mr. Kidde told Law360 that Lewis Brisbois plans to file a motion for an amended judgment to recover additional fees. He pointed out that in November 2019, Native Foods had asked the court to deny the plaintiff’s motion for a new trial because it was untimely and violated the requirements of the applicable local rules in failing to provide grounds for the motion.

Further details of this case are available in the Law360 article titled “Chef Denied Retrial In IP Row With Calif. Restaurant Chain” (subscription required).

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