There’s a battle simmering between Italian restaurants Carbone’s and Carbone

Dallas-based Carbone’s is accusing New York’s Carbone, owned by Major Food Group, of stealing its name and causing confusion in its hometown.
Photo: Carbone's v The Major Food Group legal filing

A battle is brewing between Carbone’s and Carbone.

A decade-old Italian restaurant in Dallas called Carbone’s Fine Food & Wine this week filed suit against New York-based Italian concept Carbone Restaurant, which recently opened a Dallas outpost and has been selling packaged sauces in local grocery stores.

Carbone’s Fine Food alleged that the New York restaurant, run by Major Food Group, is infringing on Carbone’s trademark and causing confusion in both the restaurant and in the grocery aisle. Carbone’s is seeking to stop Major Food Group from using the Carbone name in Texas, according to a filing in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas.

The New York operator also launched a website in the last month that’s just one letter away from that of Carbone’s, the Dallas restaurant said.

Carbone’s Fine Food said it is receiving up to 20 calls per day from customers confused about the other restaurant with a similar name. And vendors and even the city of Dallas have expressed similar confusion, Carbone’s said in the filing.

“By using a nearly identical mark (Carbone’s v Carbone) in association with the same goods and services (Italian restaurants and pre-packaged foods), consumers are and will be confused, misled or deceived as to the source of the goods and services,” Carbone’s said in its filing.

Major Food Group did not immediately respond to a Restaurant Business request to comment on the lawsuit.

In addition to Carbone, Major Food Group operates nearly 30 high-end concepts, including The Grill, The Lobster Club, Hasalon, Don Camillo and more in New York City, Miami, Las Vegas and, since March, Dallas.

Carbone’s Fine Food’s founder Julian Barsotti, who operates four Dallas restaurants, began using the name Carbone’s in 2011 but did not trademark it. Barsotti is arguing that he owns a superior common law right to the trademark in Texas.

Barsotti, in a statement, said the name and logo is modeled after a restaurant and grocery store opened by his great-grandfather in New Jersey in 1941.

Major Food Group, which opened its first Carbone location in New York City in 2013, holds one federal trademark for Carbone Restaurant.

Carbone’s Fine Foods is seeking to prevent Major Food Group from using the name Carbone in Texas. It is also suing for monetary damages and the cancellation of Major Food Group’s Carbone Restaurant trademark.

“Major Food Group’s ‘NY Carbone,’ which is brand new to Dallas, is purposefully attempting to trade on Carbone’s name, goodwill and hard-earned reputation to confuse local customers on both the restaurant and retail fronts,” Carbone’s attorney Matthew Yarbrough said in a statement.

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