Rib City Group, Inc. d/b/a Rib City Grill of Fort Meyers, FL filed suit against RCC Restaurant Corp. d/b/a Rib City Ale House of Port Jefferson Station, NY, seeking damages for alleged trademark infringement, unfair competition, trademark dilution, cyber-piracy, misappropriation of trade secrets, and breach of contract. Rib City Grill is a franchised concept, with 12 locations in Florida and operations in an additional seven states. Rib City Group, Inc. is the owner of USPTO trademark registrations for "Rib City," "Rib City Grill," "Rib City Barbeque," and "Rib City Real BBQ & Great Ribs."
At the heart of the suit are the alleged actions of Frank Ryan, the former general manager of the East Naples Rib City Grill location. Ryan resigned as general manager in April 2007, and entered into a separation agreement in June 2007, stating he received confidential information during the course of his employment, and would not disclose or utilize this information for a period of 10 years.
In January 2009, Ryan opened Rib City Ale House of Port Jefferson, NY, allegedly using features of the Rib City Grill trademark, trade dress, and identical or similar menu items. While Ryan believes his restaurant is a different concept than Rib City Grill, he has closed his restaurant due to the economy.
Ryan stated, "I would certainly know Rib City Grill is a protected name, but I wouldn't know Rib City Ale House was."
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