City restaurant triumphs in trade mark row

The owners of a high-end London restaurant – whose customers include Tony Blair and the actor Kevin Spacey – have won an intellectual property dispute.

Zuma, a Japanese eatery in the Knightsbridge area, had taken legal action after a separate business, selling dog food, was set up three years ago.

Zoe Vanderbilt, who had launched Zuma’s Choice Pet Products Ltd, argued she had named her own enterprise after a favourite pet.

But Raine Becker, the chef who co-founded the restaurant 15 years ago, was concerned that people could draw unfavourable associations between the two very different ventures.

“I would never call a restaurant Pedigree because Pedigree is, I think, a well-known animal pet food,” he told the High Court.

“I know people would associate that food for the animals with my food served in my restaurant.”

Having considered the evidence, Judge Melissa Clarke ordered Ms Vanderbilt to stop breaching the trade marks.

While she won’t be forced to change the company’s name, she has been prohibited from selling pet food with the word Zuma attached anywhere in Europe.

In a ruling last month, Judge Clarke said: “I am satisfied that there is… an inherent tension between dog food and human food of any type and an even greater tension between dog food and food served to humans in high quality restaurants such as Zuma.”

For advice on any aspect of intellectual property disputes please contact Seamus Smyth.