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Did Wolfgang Puck Rip Off Billionaire Kimbal Musk's Restaurant Concept?

Elon’s brother accuses the celebrity chef of trademark infringement in a federal suit

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In a clash of the culinary titans, billionaire Kimbal Musk (brother of tech titan Elon Musk and creator of a restaurant concept called The Kitchen) is suing Wolfgang Puck, accusing the celebrity chef — who recently launched his own concept called The Kitchen — of copyright infringement. According to a suit filed by Musk in federal court on Friday, Puck unveiled his own, competing restaurant concept just a few years after learning about Musk’s concept.

Musk’s lawsuit, filed on November 18 in the U.S. District Court of Colorado, claims that Musk met with Wolfgang Puck at his Spago Beverly Hills restaurant in 2012, “to discuss and share advice regarding Mr. Puck’s experience in the restaurant industry and Mr. Musk’s expanding footprint of The Kitchen restaurants.”

The interaction seemed friendly enough, according to a photo of the two taken after the meeting and included in the filing:

But in 2015, without notice or warning to Musk, Puck announced a new, competing restaurant concept, with a familiar name: The Kitchen. And it isn't just the names that mimic one another. Musk says even the look of the restaurants’ logos bears a striking similarity (though Puck’s version does offer a “by Wolfgang Puck” in small text next to the logo):

l: Musks’s The Kitchen; r: The Kitchen by Wolfgang Puck

According to the suit, the news “immediately caused confusion in the restaurant industry and marketplace, as people assumed that Mr. Musk has decided to affiliate with or license Wolfgang Puck.”

Musk claims he then reached out to Puck in an attempt to convince him to adopt a different name, even offering alternatives like Wolfgang Puck’s Kitchen or Puck’s Kitchen. Puck, the suit claims, did not return Musk’s calls.

Musk initially filed a trademark opposition with the United States Patent and Trademark Office in February. But since then, Puck’s team has continued to open restaurants using The Kitchen name. Now, Musk is asking the federal court to stop him from using the name, alleging unfair competition, refusal of applications under federal law, and trademark infringement.

The suit is somewhat similar to another recent trademark infringement case in the restaurant world: That of Tasty Made and Tasty Burger. Boston-based Tasty Burger claims that Chipotle copied both its name and logo with its new burger concept, Tasty Made. The Boston chain has sent the burrito giant a cease and desist letter in the past, and has alluded to filing a lawsuit in the future.

View the full court filing, below:

Why Kimbal Musk Is Opening a $5-And-Under Restaurant Concept [E]

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