Miami's Seasalt and Pepper has new legal woes. This time the restaurant's very name is under attack by a Naples restaurant claiming first dibs on "Sea Salt."
Sea Salt, located in the wealthy Gulf Coast city, was granted a trademark for the use of "Sea Salt" in "services for providing food and drink; temporary accommodations" in March 2013. Sea Salt has been using the name since 2008.
According to the Naples Daily News, a permanent injunction was issued against Miami's Seasalt and Pepper to refrain from using the term "Sea Salt" in association with "restaurant and bar services."
The document, filed November 17 in U.S. District Court, Fort Myers Division, is part of a settlement agreement that dismisses a previous lawsuit filed by Nane Jan, LLC (Sea Salt's parent company). The settlement dismisses the lawsuit provided that "defendant Seasalt and Pepper shall not use the Sea Salt Trademark in association with restaurant and bar services, including, but not limited to, in advertising and promotional materials, on signage and menus, and on websites or other internet social media accounts beyond January 1, 2015."
What does that mean for the star-studded Seasalt and Pepper? The injunction states the restaurant is allowed to use the term "Sea Salt" while in a phase-out period through 2014. After January 1, 2015, if the trademarked name is used, "Defendant Seasalt and Pepper, or its representatives, shall pay Nane Jan its legal expenses in successfully pursuing a contempt and/or other enforcement proceedings."
Robert Zarco, attorney for Seasalt and Pepper, was quoted as saying, "The suit was amicably resolved between the parties."
Sea Salt in Naples is owned by chef Fabrizio Aielli and his wife, Ingrid. Aielli won the 2002 James Beard Foundation Star Chef Award. The restaurant, located on Naples' chic Third Street, was named Best New Restaurant 2009 by Esquire and was featured in a New York Times profile of Naples.
This isn't the first time Miami's Seasalt and Pepper has been involved in legal wrangling. In September, a lawsuit was dismissed after two original restaurant partners reached an agreement in which Carlos Miranda would take control of the restaurant for an undisclosed sum.
The 200-seat waterfront restaurant, which has seen the likes of Steven Tyler and Beyoncé dining there, just put the finishing touches on its new expansion, Modern Garden. No word on whether that name will encompass the entire establishment after the January 1 deadline.