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There can only be one Dubliner, Washington pub says in suit against Boston pub

The owners of the Washington pub called the Dubliner today sued the owners of the Government Center pub called the Dubliner for trademark infringement, saying another pub with the same name would confuse consumers, even if they are 430 miles apart, because the Washington pub also has its own brand of Irish whiskey that is for sale in Boston.

In the suit against the East Coast Tavern Group, filed today in US District Court in Boston, the Washington Dubliner, founded in 1975, is asking for the Boston Dubliner, opened last year in the space where Kinsale used to be in Center Plaza, to be ordered to change its name and pay all the profits it's made, plus damages and attorney's fees to be determined by the court.

The Washington Dubliner says its lawyers sent a cease-and-desist demand to the Boston Dubliner owners on Oct. 6, 2022, but that they refused to change the name.

This is the second time in a year a new Boston restaurant has been sued over its name. Last June, a New York company that makes organic Italian-style liqueurs called Faccia Brutto sued chefs Jamie Bissonnette and Ken Oringer when they opened an Italian restaurant on Newbury Street called Faccia Brutta. Bissonnette and Oringer eventually agreed to change their restaurants name to Faccia a Faccia.

PDF icon Complete complaint328.25 KB


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And, upon Googling it, in Omaha, and one in Tampa. (And, I'm sure, many more.)

Are they going to sue all of them too?


When you ask for a glass of water at the Center Plaza location, it doesn't taste like pool water like the one in DC.

Full disclosure - My cousin, who is a nurse in Mayo, her partner is the brother of the wife of one of the Boston owners. Let's hope a judge tosses this crap post haste.


there’s gotta be at least 50 unaffiliated pubs called Dubliner across this entire country. this one is what crossed the line?


If you mean "the one they think they can get away with suing" then yes.


think this issue through. I like Ken and Jamie's place on Newbury, but the new name is not so great, a lame compromise born of bad risk assessment. There's no way they didn't know about the Brooklyn amaro makers beforehand.

I guess it helps to be a deep-pocketed multi-national luxury chain like Zuma, which just bought the name from the little Faneuil Hall Tex-Mex joint that had been using it here for 20 years.

Meanwhile, based on Devra's recent Globe review, The Dubliner sounds great, a classier version of Irish food for Boston. I'm ashamed to admit I haven't been by yet, intend to fix that soon.


… two of them, maybe the James Joyce Estate has a case as well


Not to mention the roughly 600K residents of Dublin, Ireland. And that's even before we get Dublin, California and Dublin, Ohio in the mix.


If you haven’t been to the Dubliner.

The one in DC is absolutely terrific. Different vibe at the one in Boston, definitely more upscale but a fine place all the same.

it is a challenge to visit every new place, and my new professional restaurant reviewing gig at Boston Magazine is tilted toward fancier spots.

My preference would be to cover more breadth up and down the price scale, and reach further afield than the posher neighborhoods in Boston and its closest suburbs. But my editors have to keep their audience in mind, and those readers aren't looking for my take on that modest Somali place in Eastie, as worthy as I think that is, and maybe not The Dubliner, either.

I still try to get everywhere new at least once for my own edification, but the list is a long one, and I also have a day job.


I prefer the Irish Times, adjacent to the Dubliner in DC. Though I should get there soon before the newspaper sues

I got the shepard's pie and it was delicious. Service was nice. My colleagues devoured the fish and chips. It's a good option for those of us who have to frequent the Suffolk County courthouses.

Just ask McDonald's.

And for those who want to be pedantic, yes, the EU has a common trademark area, but we'll just call it a nation for commerce purposes.

I understand you're making a point about international trademark issues, but the state/national issue confuses a lot of people. (In fact, you can even have trademarks with a narrower geographic scope than that, but registration is either at the state or federal level.)

I don't think they'd have a leg to stand on if it was just two restaurants in different jurisdictions. That happens all the time.

The whiskey that's cited is (supposedly) sold in MA and seems to be their basis for claiming that the duplicate name would cause confusion in consumers that the DC pub's whiskey is somehow connected to the Boston pub.

Dont think they would have a leg to stand on? They own a nearly 50 year old Federal Trademark registration for The Dubliner for reataurant and bar services...

Maybe I'll head over to Milk Street to read the complaint while having a snack.


I mean, who among us in Boston has not wanted to go out for a pint some night, but thanks to the deceptive trade name of our local bar, we end up drinking there instead of the tavern in Washington DC that we meant to run down to.


If this suit is successful, pity all the owners of an establishment called the Main Street Diner.

As BostonDog reminds us with his deep cut above, that's been tried: Milk Street Cafe sued Christopher Kimball when he set up a new concern called Milk Street. They lost, in part because they were in two different types of businesses (the cafe was a local restaurant, while Kimball's concern was a national brand focused on teaching people how to cook). But also:

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.

Still, Casper rejected Kimball's demand that the cafe, which had been around a lot longer than his business, be stripped of its Milk Street Cafe trademark (Kimball, who is, of course, local, claimed he had never heard of the Milk Street Cafe when he opened his office on Milk Street).

You mean Kimball is not affiliated with Milk Street Café? I always assumed he was the owner or executive chef. So I guess the distinction is not as clear as some people think it is.


the early 80s. Kimball was affiliated for many years with America's Test Kitchen and Cook's Illustrated until 2016, when he went solo after a contract dispute and founded Milk Street. The notion that he was unaware of the cafe's existence strikes me as bo-oh-gus, but regardless, their brand is 35 years older than his.


He's also in the pay of Big Kosher Salt.

OK, I know (now, anyway) there are some specific cases for using kosher salt instead of regular old table salt, but when every single recipe for month after month after month specifically calls for kosher salt, you start to wonder (and yes, I now check his recipes just to see if they include kosher salt, and, obviously, they always do, and no, don't worry, we get the Sunday paper for other reasons).

But yeah, really, you have something to do with cooking in the Boston area and you set up shop on Milk Street and you claim you've never heard of the Milk Street Cafe?

kosher salt over table salt for cooking. It's not iodized, tastes less salty, and so is easier to control the level of salinity. Fancy specialty salts of all sorts, like flaky Maldon sea salt and fleur de sel, are typically reserved for the last touch before serving.

Proper seasoning at every stage of cooking might be the single most important skill a cook, pro or amateur, can master. I use kosher and save the Morton's for the table. If you have to use Morton's Table salt in a recipe that calls for kosher, reduce the amount by about 20%. Diamond Crystal Table is coarser than Morton's Table, hence less dense and so lighter by volume, so reduce that a little less, maybe by 15%, for the same salinity as kosher. I know this sounds finicky if you're not a slave to recipes, but that's how I start with new dishes till I'm comfortable with the results. Of course, there's no substitute for tasting for proper seasoning throughout the cooking process.

I don't do a lot of baking, but I am told that many pros use table salt or similar finer-grained salts for their better dissolvability.

(Also, Kimball lived in the South End and commuted to the ATK studios in the Seaport for many years. His plea of ignorance of the Cafe's existence rings bo-oh-oh-gus!)

If one of them starts marketing a whiskey (or anything else) under that name in different states, then it could become an issue, although pre-established businesses usually get trademark priority over new ones, AFAIK.

My instinct leads me to wonder what is behind the suit. There is no issue of competition. Did someone in the Boston Dubliner wink when they should have nodded at an owner of the D.C. Dubliner?

On the other hand I remember a situation a few decades ago where the Sony Corporation's CET's (Chief Executive Thugs) sued a Baltimore woman for infringement. Her nickname was Sony. She had a restaurant named Sony. It was small restaurant with only one site. But for the Sony CETs nothing is too small for their corporate thuggery.

The Sony CET's argued that a tiny restaurant named Sony could cause confusion among consumers resulting in failed sales of their electronics. Somehow a woman selling food results in Sony not selling electronics. Worse, that this tiny restaurant could become a massive chain such as McDonald's.

This was in 1987. Imagine how much time and money CETs at Sony, or any other billion dollar corporation, spend on finding the tiniest potential infringement, even when there is no substance to the so-called infringement. These folks had to read through every phone book in every city finding targets for law suits.

So maybe the owners of the D.C. restaurant are so financially successful that they can waste money suing owners of a business that is over 400 miles away. Maybe the Boston Dubliners will evolve to a chain of Irish Pub fast food joints that threatens the existence of Dubliners of D.C.

Imagine: Shepherd's Pies as fast food. Actually, not a bad idea.

I had an acquaintance who, at 13 years old or so, made a simple table-tennis video game and released it for free on the Internet. However, he referred to it as "ping pong", which it turns out is trademarked, and he got a cease-and-desist letter from a lawyer about it. This guy had about the best possible answer: he agreed to rename the game, but also asked the lawyer if bullying a teenager made him feel good about himself.

of that kid who wrote a computer program called EMAIL. Whatever happened to him?

It is a word to describe a person from Dublin.. and there’s hundred of bars called the same around the world

What a shame on the guy in dc , that’s minus craic all together