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Gulf Shores restaurant wins naming lawsuit

MOBILE (AP) — A federal judge has ordered a new Gulf Shores eatery not to call itself The Oyster House because of the confusion it may create with the Original Oyster House restaurant just down the road.

The ruling Monday by U.S. District Judge Kristi DuBose came in a trademark infringement suit filed by Superb Food Inc., which owns the Original Oyster House that opened in 1983, against The Oyster House, an Atlanta-area business that recently opened the rival about three miles away on the Alabama coast.

Blake Lowe, an attorney for the new restaurant, said Tuesday a neon sign that says "The Oyster House" will be changed to give the full name: The Oyster House Piano Bar and Grill.

He said other signs, menus and marketing will reflect the full name.

David Quittmeyer, an attorney for Superb Food, said the new restaurant should remove "Oyster House" from its name altogether to avoid confusion. The judge's ruling, a temporary restraining order, did not specifically banish those two words, but Quittmeyer indicated the litigation may continue if they remain.

"What they change it to, they change it at their peril," he said.

Lowe said "Oyster House" is a generic term and that the change to the full name should end any confusion.

"People can either read or they can't," he said.

DuBose said there was no evidence that the new restaurant intended to benefit from the similarity of its name with that of a successful local business. But she said there was ample evidence that customers were confused by the names.

DuBose noted her order was a temporary one for an immediate change and that it does not address whether the new restaurant's modification, whatever it says or looks like, would infringe on the trademark or not.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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