One of the most famous names in the Capital Region’s restaurant and hospitality industry is at the heart of a federal trademark lawsuit.
The owner of Mazzone Hospitality LLC is suing Matthew Mazzone for setting up a similar operation to the one founded by his father, Angelo Mazzone, and running it under the surname.
Compass Group and Mazzone Hospitality LLC filed a lawsuit Monday in Albany against Matthew Mazzone; his company, Mazzone Wedding Group LLC; and his wife, Suzy Mazzone, alleging unfair competition, brand dilution and deceptive marketing practices.
The plaintiffs seek damages and a cease and desist order.
Angelo and Matthew Mazzone did not respond to requests for comment for this story. Neither can the lawyer representing the plaintiffs.
Mazzone Hospitality had humble beginnings in the 1980s and has grown into a dominant restaurant / hotel business. Among his possessions was the Glen Sanders mansion in Scotland. A subsidiary of Compass acquired it in 2017, renamed it Mazzone Hospitality LLC, and left Angelo Mazzone at the helm. Mazzone Hospitality LLC’s website currently lists him as a “founder”.
Mazzone Wedding Group is much newer. Matthew Mazzone, a longtime employee of Mazzone Hospitality under the two owners, is said to have left on his own in 2020 and started operations in earnest early this year.
The company’s website advertises full-service wedding and event planning, including catering. It says:
“Matt Mazzone is well known in the hospitality industry. Former CFO & COO of Mazzone Hospitality, Matt Mazzone has what it takes to take this new business to the next level. Matt’s strengths in finance, team building and business growth are unparalleled. Joining the family business at a young age, Matt grew to love and respect the hard work, passion and level of dedication it takes to run a hospitality business. His passion is hospitality and he is now dedicated to giving the community a family owned and operated restaurant business that is built on values, family and community.
In the lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York, the plaintiffs state and allege that:
- They own the “brands” – the names, trademarks, badges, logos and designations – for “Mazzone Hospitality” and “Mazzone Catering”.
- Mathew and Suzy Mazzone started a competing wedding and event group under the names Mazzone Wedding Group and Mazzone Weddings.
- Promotional material calls it family owned and operated and cites Matthew Mazzone’s previous experience with Mazzone Hospitality.
- This is an illegal diversion and if it continues, the plaintiffs will suffer irreparable damage.
- Angelo Mazzone entered the restaurant business in 1980 when he bought Peggy’s from Schenectady; expanded with the purchase of the Glen Sanders restaurant in Scotia in 1988; expanded into off-site catering and turned it into a culinary empire that had exclusive catering contracts at many of the region’s top venues.
- Angelo Mazzone’s sale of his hotel and restaurant business included all rights to the brand and its trademarks, including the trade names Mazzone Catering and Mazzone Hospitality.
- Matthew Mazzone’s employment contract with Compass included a ban on competing with plaintiffs or soliciting their clients if he left the company.
- When Matthew Mazzone left Mazzone Hospitality LLC around April 7, 2020, he signed a separation agreement that prohibited him from soliciting plaintiffs’ clients for a competing company for 18 months.
- A week later, he registered the domain name MazzoneWeddings.com.
- Matthew and Suzy Mazzone launched the new company in early 2021, he as president and owner, she as vice president.
- The confusing name is an attempt at compromise and free will on the goodwill of the Mazzone brand; their marketing clearly shows an attempt to create such an association.
- Complainants’ attorney sent letters to Matthew Mazzone on March 10, reminding him of his contractual obligations; on March 22, asking him to stop using the Mazzone name in connection with any catering business in New York; and on May 7, asking him to change the name and warning of legal action if he did not.
The complainants seek:
- An accounting of all gains, benefits, savings and benefits that the defendants have obtained by trading under the name of Mazzone;
- Legal fees;
- Punitive damages, statutory damages of $ 1,000 per violation and payment of three times the sum of the actual damages suffered by the plaintiffs;
- A preliminary and permanent injunction to use any name, trademark or designation similar to the applicants’ Mazzone trademarks; to claim any association with the complainants; and otherwise compete unfairly with complainants;
- An order directing the defendants to withdraw from distribution any marketing or promotional material that would violate the injunction and deliver them for destruction.
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