The long-awaited reboot of the landmark Four Seasons space will no longer be called The Landmark Rooms following a legal complaint by the chef of the unrelated Landmarc restaurants.
Marc Murphy, the Chopped judge who runs Landmarc bistros in Tribeca and Manhattan’s Time Warner Center, has settled his trademark dispute with the owners of soon-to-open Midtown power spot, located in the historic Seagram building. He argued, through his lawyers, that Landmark Rooms sounded “confusingly similar” to his own venues.
The space, run by The Major Food Group (Carbone, Santina), will now have two separate names for the two discrete restaurants inside: The Grill, which refers to the venue’s South room, and The Pool, which refers to the North room with its historic body of water.
Murphy, commenting through a spokesperson, provided the following statement to Eater via email:
I am pleased to report that we were able to resolve our dispute with Major Food Group concerning the use of our trademarked name. While we certainly wish it did not require a filing of a court action to obtain this result, we have reached an agreement and an understanding of the importance of our name to our business. In particular, Major Food Group agreed they will no longer use any term that is or sounds similar to our registered trademark name “Landmarc” and we are very satisfied with this acknowledgment by them. I opened the first Landmarc restaurant in Tribeca over 13 years ago, my second location in the Time Warner Center 10 years ago, and have always relied upon the friendship and camaraderie of my fellow restaurateurs to do the right thing. We are eager to put this matter behind us and continue to serve our guests and this amazing city.
Major Food Group’s Jeff Zalaznick responded with his own email statement after this article was published on Monday. Here’s what he had to say:
We are very happy to resolve this confusion. The Landmark Rooms was a way to describe the space and was never intended as a restaurant name. Once we were made aware of the issue we moved swiftly to resolve it. Going forward we will refer to each restaurant by its individual name, THE GRILL, and THE POOL. They are two different restaurants, with two different spaces and two different concepts. The landmark history of our new restaurants is very important to us, but at the end of the day the spaces truly speak for themselves.
In the original complaint, Murphy’s attorneys argued that “when pronounced, the words Landmark and Landmarc are phonetically identical, and, thus, legally identical for trademark likelihood of confusion purposes.” The similar names could also cause confusions among those making phone reservations, the complaint stated.
Plaintiffs argued that both venues would be “marketed to the same type of customers, seeking high-quality fine dining in New York City.” Similar-sounding names aside, the two concepts are quite different.
Murphy’s Landmarcs, a play on the chef’s name, are relatively affordable French-Italian bistros known for its bone marrow and selection of reasonably marked-up wines.
The Grill is expected to make its debut as an expensive retro steakhouse in late-April or early May. The Pool — a Japanese-inspired seafood restaurant — will open at a later date.
A single cocktail at that steakhouse will cost $18, which is more expensive than an entire bowl of French onion soup at Landmarc.
Murphy has used the Landmarc name since 2004. His Anvil restaurant group also runs seafood shack Ditch Plains and Kingside. The Major Food Group operate high-end spots like Carbone, ZZ’s Clam Bar, and Dirty French, as well as Parm, a chain of casual Italian-American diners.
Initial news of the settlement was first reported by Law360 [subscription].