In June, California-based Umami Burger filed a trademark infringement case against Austin's newly opened Umami Mia Pizzeria, asking that they "immediately change their name." Last week, a judge denied Umami Burger's injunction, on the grounds that "'umami' is a common word that cannot be monopolized."
Umami Mia co-owner Mark Turner states, "there is no likelihood a customer would confuse Umami Mia Pizzeria with Umami Burger," and points out that pizza ingredients are also high in "umami" flavors. The name is theirs for now, which is a good thing, considering how many times it appears in the restaurant. The full press release, via Umami Mia's reps Giant Noise, can be found below.
UPDATE! Umami Mia has won the preliminary injunction hearing, not the entire suit.
VIA GIANT NOISE:
On June 17, 2013, Umami Burger Licensing USA, LLC filed a Trademark Infringement case against Umami Mia Pizzeria, LLC. The case is assigned to Judge Sam Sparks. On August 13, 2013, a preliminary injunction hearing was held per Umami Burger's request, asking that Umami Mia Pizzeria immediately change its name. The judge ruled in favor of Umami Mia Pizzeria and denied the injunction, a decision that supports the point of view that "umami" is a common word that cannot be monopolized.
As background, Umami Mia Pizzeria opened in Austin on May 31, 2013. Umami Mia Pizzeria is a pizzeria and Italian restaurant with two full bars and outdoor patio, offering guests pizzas, sandwiches and salads. Each dish on the menu spotlights umami – known as "the fifth taste" that is rounded and savory. The restaurant is the creation of Austin restaurant veterans Mark Turner, Rick Engel, and Adam Weisberg.
"When my partners Rick Engel, Adam Weisberg and I came up with the Umami Mia Pizzeria concept, we wanted to create a neighborhood Italian restaurant with a great menu and atmosphere," says Mark Turner, co-owner of Umami Mia Pizzeria. "We have accomplished that goal and the response from the community has been terrific since opening day. We are appreciative of the continued support from the Austin community as we resolve this lawsuit."
"We have always believed that there is no likelihood a customer would confuse Umami Mia Pizzeria with Umami Burger," continues Turner. "As the court recognized, one is a burger joint, and one is a pizza restaurant. There is no confusion in the marketplace that the two are connected. They are an out of state California burger joint with only two locations outside of California. Nothing in Austin. Nothing in Texas. We believe that a very low percentage of Texans have even heard of them. One restaurant company cannot own a common word like umami, which is particularly well suited to a pizzeria because many pizza ingredients are high in umami. Umami, along with sweet, or sour, or bitter, or salty, are common, defined words found in almost every modern, English-language dictionary. One company cannot own a monopoly on these words. We are happy that the court saw our point of view in not granting their request, especially with all of the money that they have said they are willing to spend to litigate anyone that opposes their point of view."