HOUSTON - Rudy's Texas Bar-B-Q LLC has filed suit against a South Texas restaurateur it believes is illegally using its name.
Court documents filed Sept. 12 in Houston federal court accuse Rudy A. Davila, doing business as Rudy's Bar-B-Q, of wrongfully appropriating the plaintiff's trade names and marks through his eateries in Sinton and Ingleside.
The complainant explains that though it was established in 1996, it has owned and operated barbeque restaurants and catering businesses under the trade name, Rudy's Country Store and Bar-B-Q, since 1989, and since 2000, has operated under the trade name, Rudy's Texas Bar-B-Q.
The suit shows the plaintiff is the owner of the following trademarks registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office: Real Texas Bar-B-Q, I Didn't Claw My Way to the Top of the Food Chain...to Eat Vegetables, Rudy's Anywhere, Rudy's Texas Bar-B-Q and Rudy's Country Store and Bar-B-Q.
Aside from Texas, it conducts business in Oklahoma, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona.
According to the original petition, Davila opened a restaurant and catering business in Sinton called Rudy's Bar-B-Q in 2001, and recently, another establishment with the same name in Ingleside with "actual notice and knowledge, or had constructive notice, of the existence of Rudy's and its use and ownership of the Rudy's Marks and Trade Names, including Rudy's Country Store and Bar-B-Q and Rudy's Texas Bar-B-Q."
The suit claims the respondent committed the acts in question "in a manner that was likely to confuse consumers into believing falsely that (its) businesses are owned and operated by, affiliated with, or sponsored or approved by the plaintiff," stating a cease and desist letter was sent to Davila to no avail.
Customers confused the Sinton and Ingleside restaurants with the plaintiff's Corpus Christi location, it says.
One complaint written on Oct. 1, 2011, called the eatery "horrible" and vowed "never again" and a review posted on Yahoo! earlier that year, focusing on what was thought to be the complainant's restaurant, said the visitor "would give it a minus one if possible" because of a lack of barbecue pork and "tough, fatty and stingy" ribs.
"Such confusion and misappropriation has damaged the plaintiff, and it will continue to irreparably injure the plaintiff's profits, goodwill, business reputation and intellectual property," the suit says.
Consequently, the complainant seeks at least $500,000 in damages and a permanent injunction.
Attorney Mary Goodrich Nix with Munsch Hardt Kopf & Harr, P.C. in Dallas is representing the plaintiff.
Case No. 12-cv-2747