Monday, July 25, 2011

Basta! Mangia Italiano Slaps Mangia Mobile With Lawsuit [Updated]

Posted By on Mon, Jul 25, 2011 at 2:52 PM

click to enlarge Food-dealer and defendant: Mangia Mobile gets sued by Mangia Italiano - PHOTO BY ROBIN WHEELER
  • Photo by Robin Wheeler
  • Food-dealer and defendant: Mangia Mobile gets sued by Mangia Italiano
After months of legal wrangling, Mangia Italiano (3145 South Grand Blvd; 314-664-8585), the 28-year-old Italian restaurant on South Grand, is now suing the unaffiliated food truck, Mangia Mobile.

According to the petition, filed Thursday in St. Louis City Circuit Court, the four-wheeled newcomer has harmed the reputation of the brick-and-mortar eatery by having a "deceptively similar" name while selling "food products of a significantly lower quality and variety." This "causes confusion," while in fact the two companies have nothing to do with each other.

And therein lies the conflict: Some folks are confused about who owns what -- including Alive magazine, which erroneously reported in March that the truck belonged to the South Grand eatery.

In reality, Mangia Mobile belongs to three young siblings: Catherine, Thomas and Alex Daake. Inspired by their Sicilian grandmother, Macaw, their on-the-go menu includes sandwiches, toasted ravioli and arancini (described as "The Street Food of Sicily, deep-fried riceballs filled with pulled chicken, hamburger and mozzarella").

On March 16, the Daakes received a cease-and-desist letter from the restaurant's attorney, who requested they "revise" their marketing strategy (read the letter here). The siblings didn't immediately respond, so a week-and-a-half later, the attorney hand-delivered a copy to the food truck.

The Daakes then got their own attorney and agreed to affix a disclaimer sign to their vehicle denying any connection to Mangia Italiano (read the response here).

The restaurant, it appears, was not satisfied.

Evanti, the parent company of Mangia Italiano and the plaintiff in this case, is asking the court for a permanent injunction, actual damages and punitive damages. Allegations in the complaint include unfair competition and trademark infringement.

Nota bene, this ain't a federal dispute. Evanti actually applied for a federal trademark for the name "Mangia Italiano" in March but got denied. Their legal action is "common-law trademark infringement" under Missouri law.

Alongside the petition, Evanti has also filed a handful of affidavits from Mangia Italiano owners Collier Evans and James Bonsanti, who claim that confusion reigns among vendors, customersand even the restaurant's own servers. One server signed a statement, recounting how she herself believed the truck was an arm of her restaurant.

The matter is styled Evantigroup, LLC v. Mangia Mobile LLC; Case Number: 1122-CC08862.

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Update: (Monday, July 25, 3:44 p.m.) Mangia Mobile addressed the lawsuit on Twitter shortly after this article was posted. -- Ian

mangiamobiletweet072511.JPG


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