A federal judge ruled today that Christopher Kimball can keep calling his new company Christopher Kimball's Milk Street despite opposition from the older Milk Street Cafe because the two companies don't directly compete and because the cafe failed to show it was being harmed by confusion or loss of customers.
In a memorandum and order, US District Court Judge Denise Casper said that Milk Street Cafe, despite a brief foray into New York, is a strictly local concern that relies mainly on customers downtown and uses only minimal advertising consisting mainly of things such as putting its logo on delivery trucks and coffee cups. In contrast, she said, Kimball's new concern is a national company aimed at offering information and products to people who want to learn to cook and isn't in the restaurant or catering business.
And, she said, Kimball chose the name because his new office is also on Milk Street, not to take business away from the cafe, founded in 1981, which he claimed to have never heard of before.
At a trial last month, Casper ruled, Milk Street Cafe said its business remains strong despite Kimball's venture. The cafe also did not use the phrase "Milk Street" alone, she said, noting that even though it owned the milkstreet.com domain, it redirects users to milkstreetcafe.com. And that means the name remains a geographic location without any "secondary" meaning that would make people think of the cafe or its kosher offerings, she wrote, adding that the two company's logos were also distinct.
But while Casper sided with Kimball, she did deny his request to strip Milk Street Cafe of the trademark it won in 2011.