Legal Fight Looms Over Tavern on the Green

City wants sole ownership of $19 million name

Saturday, Oct 10, 2009  |  Updated 1:00 PM EDT
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Legal Fight Looms Over Tavern on the Green

Tavern on the Green

One of the beautiful rooms of the iconic Tavern on the Green.

What's in a name? If we're talking about Tavern on the Green, it's almost $20 million.

A legal fight is looming over the Central Park restaurant that has been a tourist destination since the 1930s. The dispute revolves around the restaurant's name, which was recently appraised at $19 million, reports The New York Times.

And the city wants its trademark.
    
For decades, the trademark to the name "Tavern on the Green'' has been held by the LeRoy family. They have operated the restaurant since the 1970s, but are slated to lose control at the end of the year when the city brings in a new company to run the place.
    
Last February, the city said it didn't own the name. But it changed course yesterday, claiming to be the lone proper owner of the name, noting that the restaurant had been called "Tavern on the Green'' for nearly 40 years before the LeRoys got involved.

"The city will be taking legal action to assert our right to the Tavern on the Green trademark,” Connie Pankratz, a spokeswoman for the city’s law department, told the Times.
    
The building is owned by the city, but since Tavern filed for bankruptcy on Sept. 9, the value and ownership of the name is a key issue for creditors, according to the Times.
    
The LeRoy family says it will defend its ownership to the name in court. They say they have proof the original trademark is legal as well as proof they've spent lots of money in legal fees over the years to prevent other restaurants from trying to use the name.

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