A small, local music venue has decided to pushback against possible legal challenges from a Nashville cafe over the use of its name.
Jim Pennington, owner of The Listening Room of Mobile, has decided not to change the name of his business, despite the threat of legal action from Chris Schoessel, owner of The Listening Room Cafe in Tennessee.
“I’m taking my chances,” Pennington said. “If I lose all they’ll get is an LLC that makes $100 per month after I pay all of my bills.”
The full-time Austal employee and Baldwin County resident said he was on the verge of changing the name of his business at 78 St. Francis Street, but decided against it after he was told to pay out $10,000.
“They’re the bad guys,” he said. “They want me to give in to them.”
Schoessel is represented by local attorney Edward Dean, of Armbrecht Jackson, and two attorneys from Nashville, according to a draft complaint that has not yet been filed. Neither Dean nor representatives from the Listening Room Cafe returned calls seeking comment.
The complaint accuses Pennington of trademark infringement, among other things, for using the name “The Listening Room” to promote his venue, which is very similar to what Choessel does in Tennessee.
“Defendants’ use of ‘The Listening Room’ and/or ‘The Listening Room of Mobile’ is confusingly similar to plaintiff’s ‘The Listening Room’ marks and is used in connection with identical and related services,” the complaint states. “Upon information and belief, defendants had actual knowledge of The Listening Room’s rights in The Listening Room Marks prior to its adoption of the name ‘The Listening Room of Mobile.’”
Attorneys for the Tennessee-based venue sent Pennington a cease and desist letter in March. In a response to the letter, Pennington’s attorney said he was filing for a name change to add “of Mobile” to its formal name.
However, according to Schoessel’s complaint, that would make the problem worse.
“The addition of ‘of Mobile’ to the venue’s name further exacerbates the likelihood of confusion that the Defendants are acting as part of, or as a licensee of, plaintiff,” the complaint states.
“Defendants’ activities have caused and will continue to cause irreparable injury to The Listening Room’s business and the goodwill of its marks unless and until defendants’ acts are permanently enjoined by this court.”
While the room is doing “great,” it remains an up and down business, as most smaller venues, Pennington said.
“We might have 60 people in there one night and the next we may have five,” he said. “That’s the nature of the business.”
Pennington hopes to one day make managing the room a full-time job, but right now, it remains fun and rewarding for him.
“A listening room is not a get-rich-quick scheme,” he said. “I hear people say it’s a labor of love’ and that’s what it is.”
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