A decades-old Irish pub in Washington, D.C. called the Dubliner is suing a newly opened Irish pub in Boston, also called the Dubliner, over alleged trademark infringement, Universal Hub reports. The elder D.C. pub is demanding that the Boston bar change its name and hand over all of the profits that it has made since it opened as the Dubliner last fall.
The Washington, D.C. Dubliner says in the suit that the similar names are causing customer confusion. Even though the two pubs are hundreds of miles apart, the D.C. Dubliner says that because it sells goods like a Dubliner-branded Irish whiskey all over the U.S., including in Boston, the name similarity “has caused, and is likely to cause, confusion, mistake, and deception among the relevant purchasing public,” according to the lawsuit.
In general, the Dubliner name for restaurants and bars appears to be pretty common — a now-closed New York City Irish bar went by that name, as does a deli in Connecticut.
Still, the D.C. pub sent a cease-and-desist letter to co-owner Oran McGonagle and the team behind the Boston pub last October, according to the suit, but they didn’t change course. The D.C. Dubliner has now followed that up with an official lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Boston this week. The D.C. bar is demanding that the Boston pub stop using the Dubliner name and pay out all of the profits that it has made so far in connection to its name, plus legal fees and other damages as decided by the court.
In Boston, the Dubliner enjoyed a splashy opening last year and has had a successful run so far. Chef Aidan McGee’s upscale take on Irish pub fare, including pearl barley dumplings, crispy fish and chips, and a classic lamb shepherd’s pie, was recently awarded a three-star review in the Boston Globe. Co-owner McGonagle declined to speak with Eater about the lawsuit.
A similar situation happened last year between Boston restaurant Faccia Brutta, run by well-known restaurateurs Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette, and Brooklyn spirits company Faccia Brutto, which sued the pair over the similar name. In that case, Bissonnette and Oringer were forced to change the name of the restaurant — months after it opened to the public — to Faccia a Faccia.