A complaint filed by Heart Coffee Roasters parent company Heart LLC on August 21 accuses Heart Pizza’s founder and regular at Heart Coffee, Micah Camden, of establishing a business under a trademarked name. In the filing, Heart LLC says that “‘Heart Pizza’ is confusingly similar, if not identical, to the HEART” trademark that the company has held since 2009 and that both company’s are marketed similarly and offer similar products. Heart LLC is asking federal judge to order Heart to change its name.
Micah Camden is the cofounder of several restaurants besides Heart Pizza including Little Big Burger, Blue Star Donuts, and Boxer Ramen. Little Big Burger sold to an investor for $6.1 million in 2015. In 2015, Heart Coffee’s ownership claims that Camden’s Blue Star Donuts contacted them about collaborating on “a unique coffee roast for Blue Star,” but Heart declined.
Then in February 2017, a Heart Pizza location opened less than two blocks from Heart’s SW 12 Avenue shop. Heart alleges that since the launch of the pizzeria “numerous customers ask if Heart had opened a new pizza place, and/or commented on their related pizza restaurant.” The coffee roaster also accuses Camden of “falsely represented to at least one party that he had sought and received permission from Heart to use the same name, when he had not.”
In a lengthly response to the complaint attorneys representing Heart Pizza argue that if they are required to change the name the company would have to close three locations and layoff employees.
“The idea that Mr. Camden, who has created several successful mini-chains of fast gourmet restaurants, would launch another fast gourmet concept by leveraging the goodwill of a coffee shop, rather than on his own track record, is evidence of HCR’s exaggerated sense of its importance, not of Mr. Camden’s bad intent,” an attorney for Camden writes.
Heart Pizza also argues that the companies offer entirely different products and don’t directly compete. “Pizza and coffee are not commonly paired together, and for good reason: coffee pairs well on the palate with sweets and badly with garlic, cheese and olive oil.”
The case is currently pending before U.S. District Judge Michael H. Simon. In the meantime, Heart is expected to open a third cafe in Southeast Portland by the end of the year.
• Two Portland Business Owners Are in a Battle Over the 'Heart' [The Oregonian]
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