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Milk Street Cafe sours on celebrichef's similarly named venture

The owners of Milk Street Cafe are suing former America's Test Kitchen frontman Christopher Kimball over his plans to open a Milk Street Kitchen just down Milk Street.

In a lawsuit filed in US District Court in Boston this week, Milk Street Cafe, located at 50 Milk St., says the public is already getting the two mixed up and demands Kimball cheese it and come up with a less similar name for his test-kitchen effort at 177 Milk St. to take on his former employers.

Since this recent announcement, Milk Street Cafe has received numerous job applications for “Milk Street Kitchen” and inquiries from customers believing that Milk Street Cafe is owned by Kimball. Milk Street Cafe’s internet and social media presence also has been usurped by the prominence of “Milk Street Kitchen” and the public persona of its founder. ...

Kimball also has threatened to attempt to cancel Milk Street Cafe’s federally registered trademark and has filed his own trademark application for “Milk Street Kitchen” that emphasizes “Milk Street” in large bold letters.

No whey, Milk Street Cafe says: They've been open on Milk Street since 1981, have opened Milk Street Cafes elsewhere, are well known in the Boston area and Kimball should stop being such a bully.

According to the complaint, Marc Epstein, who runs Milk Street Cafe with his family, met with Kimball earlier this month to try to convince him to find another name. Instead, the complaint continues, Kimball hired some bigfoot New York law firm to threaten legal action on his behalf against Milk Street Cafe.

Two can play that game, of course, so Epstein hired a bigfoot Boston law firm to strike first, with a lawsuit that asks a judge to order Kimball to knock it off, find some other name and pay Milk Street Cafe damages and penalties for being so bullheaded.

Earlier:
Downtown Crossing jewelry store will continue to lock Horns with nearby rival as name lawsuit continues.

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Comments

Sours...no whey. The whole case is kind of cheesy.

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I'm completely with the Milk St. cafe owner on this one. They've been an established business for years. This seems exactly the kind of situation trademark protection is supposed to prevent.

Kimball has a lot of chutzpah to threaten "to attempt to cancel Milk Street Cafe’s federally registered trademark." On what grounds could he possibly expect to win that?

A bully having a temper tantrum.

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Kimball is a jerk. He was a pompous jerk on and off camera at ATK. And no longer works there. Think about that for a bit and you'll see why he's doing this now.

Once an asshole, always an asshole.

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but I believe Kimball has a bit of rep for being a smarter than thou guy who tries to throw his weight around.

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Does anyone else see the similarities between ATK and Big Bang Theory?

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What weight? The guy is like a Tootsie Pop wearing an apron and bow tie.

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Here's a thread about disenchanted subscribers of his mags.
http://www.chowhound.com/post/aplogies-vent-americas-test-kitchen-824447...

Apparently he's not very generous about sharing ATK content. He's more generous about spamming his subscribers.

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Milk Street Cafe is such a beloved place with a devoted clientele. Its longevity deserves a salute and landmark status.

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First come, first served. Mr. Epstein's business has been serving the neighborhood for years with quality, reasonably priced food. Ask anyone in the financial district. PLUS - he has a registered TM.

So, high priced New York law firms or not, changing Cafe to Kitchen means there is Likelihood of Confusion for consumers, just as there has been for job applicants. Christopher Kimball, the radio/TV personality, may be planning bow tie food, but food is food. Therefore, there is a Similarity of the Goods - also a TM infringement.

Let's have a nice crowdfunding campaign to help the Epsteins with any legal fees they may encounter in trying to run an honest family business under a name they chose many years ago.

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Picking that name was pure nastiness. I can't think of any reason he would choose practically the same name as Milk Street Cafe except for spite or hoping their good rep would rub off on his business.

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To pick such a similar name shows that you are either very dim, don't care what effect it has, or are doing it for malicious reasons.

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Theoretically, you could also be a spoiled, entitled old brat who is used to having your own way in everything.

Not saying it's the case here, but I will say that, no matter charming, Vermont-y thing the guy wrote about, he still gave me the creeps. Did not strike me as a nice guy and the bow-tie didn't fool me.

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I was wondering if this would happen! Milk Street Cafe are great caterers to work with. Good food too.

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Many a time, I've had to scramble at the last minute for clients who eat Kosher food. Mild Street Cafe has always been helpful and kind.

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It's a shame how Kimball seems to be turning into Bob Vila.

To me the "Milk Street" part of it is less interesting than the "Kitchen" part. He just left America's Test Kitchen. Legal Test Kitchen is not too far away on Seaport Blvd. Rustic Kitchen ("home of The Cooking Show, so another similarity to his ATK/Cook's Country stuff) is just over on Stuart Street.

Interesting that he didn't put his own name as part of it. Does he figure his name just doesn't have much market value?

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He could try Ruth's Chris Kimball Kitchen. Or is that too far away?

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Maybe he could open up a place on Sesame Street called Cookie's Country.

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But this site did a whole series of letters "written" by CK. Bonus points if you're up on your "Night of the Hunter" references.

http://the-toast.net/2015/11/17/a-farewell-letter-from-chris-kimball/

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Marc, 35 good years of business operation should easily win you this case against Kimball,
Good luck and Shabbot Shalom

Cousin Mitch in Los Angeles

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First off, I get that many people love Milk Street Cafe. And I too find Mr. Kimball's onscreen persona and excessive parsimony annoying at times.

But I think folk's affection for MSC may be coloring the response to this story.

For example, Mr. Kimball was not a mere 'frontman' as Adam labels him, but the actual founder of Cooks Illustrated and Cook's Country magazines, as well as ATK. Pretty amazing record as an entrepenuer, actually.

And the Milk Street Cafe owners sued him, not the other way around. In fact, at each point in their complaint, the Milk Street Cafe people were the first to escalate to the next level. Not really a lot of bullying going on from his end.

I have to wonder if everyone getting their backs up about this topic would feel the same if Boston Market decided to defend their trademark by telling all food-related businesses they couldn't use the city's name. Or if Tremont Pizza sued Tremont 647, or some other silliness.

Kimball's rep is worldwide - huge compared to MSC. If anything, they will end up getting more attention due to his presence, rather than the other way around.

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They've been using that name since 1981. The owner asked Kimball to use another name. He refused and instead had his high-priced lawyers threaten Milk Street Cafe with some vague trademark action that they probably thought sounded really threatening on their Imposing Heavy-Stock Letterhead. What would you have done differently?

And, no, I have no connection to the Milk Street Cafe - have never even eaten there (I think I once got a bottle of water from the mini-cafe they used to have at Post Office Square) - which is the same connection I have with America's Test Kitchen and Christopher Kimball.

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I noted that you (and others) used pretty dismissive language re: Kimball, and you seem to be writing from the perspective that the complaint from the Milk Street Cafe lawyers (apparently also a +century-old high-priced Boston firm) is a statement of objective fact - which does not seem like something a long-working journalist would generally assume.

And as I pointed out in my first comment, you even rather glossed over the order of events (according to MSC's own complaint), in which they are the one's initiating and then escalating legal action.

Is Kimball 'bullying' them? It's certainly possible he's being the jerk all these commentors (who have never met him) seem to think he is, but I didn't get much out of this article that wasn't in other media stories - and those seem to prejudge the matter far less.

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