Fortitude Valley Restaurant Countersues Hospitality Giant Merivale in Trademark Battle

Establishment 203

A fiery legal dispute has ignited between Establishment 203, the upmarket Italian steakhouse in Fortitude Valley and Sydney hospitality heavyweight, Merivale. The fight centres around the name “Establishment,” with both parties claiming rights to the moniker.

Photo Credit: Facebook/ Merivale

The saga began in February when Merivale, owned by Justin Hemmes, launched a lawsuit against Establishment 203. Merivale argued the Brisbane restaurant’s name is a blatant copy of their established Sydney hospitality precinct, seeking to capitalise on its reputation and financial success.

However, Establishment 203 isn’t backing down. They’ve filed a counterclaim, fiercely denying any wrongdoing. In a bold move, they’re seeking to invalidate Merivale’s trademark on the “Establishment” name altogether.

This isn’t the first time Merivale has faced legal challenges. Currently, hospitality workers are suing the company in a class action lawsuit over alleged wage theft. Additionally, they recently settled an appeal regarding a beer garden expansion at their Marrickville pub, The Vic.

A David-and-Goliath Standoff

Photo Credit: Facebook/ Establishment203

Establishment 203, backed by Stanbroke, a major Queensland beef producer, stands firm against the hospitality giant. They insist their name selection was made in good faith and directly reference their Stanbroke’s Establishment 203 abattoir, operational since 1997. The Brisbane restaurant prides itself on serving exclusively Stanbroke-sourced beef, highlighting its unique identity.

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The counterclaim hinges on the argument that Merivale’s trademark lacks distinctiveness. Establishment 203’s lawyers contend the name “Establishment” is too generic to warrant exclusive ownership within the hospitality industry. Merivale, unsurprisingly, disagrees.

The Legal Battle Heats Up

Photo Credit: Facebook/ Merivale

With both sides refusing to budge, the case is headed for a three-day Federal Court hearing in September. Before then, however, Merivale will face a separate court appearance related to the aforementioned class action lawsuit concerning employee underpayment.

The hospitality industry eagerly awaits the court’s decision, which has the potential to impact future naming disputes within the bustling Australian food scene.

Published Date 07-May-2024