Hard Rock Café Battles Hard Rock Hemp in Trademark Infringement Lawsuit

Steven T. Lowe

“Berlin, Germany – May 17, 2012: Hard Rock Cafe sign outside a restaurant on Kurfurstendamm in Berlin. Hard Rock Cafe is a chain of restaurants founded in 1971, and currently has 150 Hard Rock locations in 53 countries.”

Only July 8th, 2021, Hard Rock Cafe filed a trademark infringement lawsuit in Florida federal court accusing a South Carolina hemp company. According to the lawsuit, the famous Rock n’ Roll chain accused the hemp company of profiteering off the restaurant and hotel conglomerate’s famous name to sell its CBD creams and edibles.

Hard Rock Café is an iconic brand with more than 2,000 U.S. and international trademarks, and, as alleged in the complaint, a company called Hard Rock Hemp is trying to tap into that reputation. But, according to the complaint, the hemp company also promotes bands and music venues, making the confusion even more substantial, as Hard Rock Hotel does the same promotion.

According to the suit, the hemp company’s owner, Myra Suzan Chapman, applied with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) in June 2019 to register the mark Hard Rock Hemp. The USPTO application described the hemp company as a “music-themed company selling and promoting quality hemp products for medicinal, health and well-being with an emphasis on working with doctors and scientists to further the study of hemp products for medicinal use as well as health supplements.” Following its application, Hard Rock Hemp’s mark was granted and published by the USPTO on March 16th, 2021.

Even though the USPTO granted the hemp company registration, Hard Rock Cafe alleged that it infringes upon its trademark. As a result, the famous chain has written cease and desist letters to the hemp company. Sometimes companies using similar trademarks will enter into “co-exist agreements,” defining the parameters under which each company can continue to use their trademark. However, at this point in time, the parties have not reached an agreement to “co-exist.”

In order to have some plausible deniability, Hard Rock Hemp has provided a disclaimer on its website that states the company is independently owned and operated and is not affiliated with any other Hard Rock companies. Still, Hard Rock Cafe alleges the statement is likely to cause some consumers to be confused because of the similarity in name and promotion of famous bands/music.

Hard Rock Cafe is represented by Curtis Carlson of Carlson & Associates PA and Stephen F. Roth of Lerner David LLP.

Counsel for Hard Rock Hemp was not readily available.

The suit is Hard Rock Cafe International (USA) Inc. v. Hard Rock Hemp LLC et al., case number 0:21-cv-61395, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

* Lowe & Associates (“The Firm”) is an entertainment and business law firm located in Beverly Hills, California. The Firm has extensive experience handling cases involving trademark law, having provided top-quality legal services to its clients since 1991. The Firm is recognized for its many achievements, including successfully litigating many high-profile cases.

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