Business & Real Estate

'Mimosa House' name sparks legal battle between Early Morning and Friends With Benedicts

A local dispute over the use of the “Mimosa House” name has bubbled over with a lawsuit in U.S. District Court.

Early Morning Inc., the corporation that operates The Mimosa House restaurant in Sacramento and three others in El Dorado Hills, Folsom and Roseville, has filed suit against the ownership of Friends With Benedicts Mimosa House at 2201 Francisco Drive in El Dorado Hills.

The suit, initially filed in January this year in El Dorado County Superior Court and moved this week to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, alleges violations of the California Business and Professions Code by the Friends With Benedicts operators.

Early Morning also has alleged common law trademark infringement and unfair competition.

The defendants are identified as Eliud Moreno and Friends With Benedicts Mimosa House LLC.

Early Morning, identified in state records as incorporated in Rancho Cordova in 2014, says it has used “The Mimosa House” since that time on all its restaurants, which distinguishes its eateries in the greater Sacramento area.

Early Morning contends that Moreno was a former Mimosa House employee who subsequently opened the Friends With Benedicts Mimosa House, wrongfully utilizing the “Mimosa House” name in its on-site signage, advertising materials and social media outlets.

Early Morning claims that it has been trying since August last year to get the defendants to stop using the Mimosa House name, alleging the Friends With Benedicts business has profited from the improper use of the Mimosa House name. Likewise, the plaintiff alleges that the competitor’s use of the Mimosa House name has created public confusion and a likely loss of revenue.

Early Morning’s suit asks for as-yet unspecified relief and damages.

Josh Escovedo, the Sacramento attorney representing the defendants, said in a Friday telephone interview: “It’s our opinion that this is nothing more than anti-competitive litigation being prosecuted by The Mimosa House with the intent to eliminate any competition in the region.”

Escovedo maintained that the Mimosa House name is generically “descriptive” and that Early Morning “is not entitled to any trademark protection.”

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office records show that separate trademark applications for The Mimosa House and Friends With Benedicts Mimosa House names remain open. A USPTO trademark application for “Friends With Benedicts” has been issued.