Who would have thought that when Cinema’s “Godfather” Francis Ford Coppola transitioned to wine and food that his word would not be acknowledged, honored, or followed. But, that is just what is happening on the wine road between San Francisco and Napa where Tavola Italian Kitchen dared open for business earlier this year within the geography of Coppola’s businesses.
According to a complaint filed on April 2, 2012 in the US District Court for the Northern District California, San Francisco Division, the famed film director and his Coppola Family Trust operate and promote two Bay area restaurants featuring the a tavola (literally “to the table”) style of dining. The Complaint alleges that Coppola’s A Tavola is dining style unique to the Coppola restaurants providing diners with a dining and entertainment experience. Tavola Italian Kitchen opened its doors in Novato which, according to the Complaint is within 50 miles of Coppola’s famed Napa, California winery and restaurants. Despite Coppola’s obligatory Cease & Desist letter, Tavola Italian Kitchen’s owners refused Coppola’s “offer” to quit and the lawsuit followed.
Several years earlier Coppola had the foresight–a sound business judgment–to register the A Tavola trademark in conjunction with his entry into the restaurant business—a savvy move for experienced business people and entrepreneurs alike. After all, more times than not, a businesses’ intellectual property or “IP” is more often than not one of the business’ most valuable and meaningful assets. Businesses often overlook those steps that can be easily taken to protect valuable business assets such trademarks, copyrights, etc. As you begin to formulate your new or existing business plans, make sure your account for protecting those valuable IP assets that are often taken for granted.
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