Food News

Bisous Bisous Scores First In Legal Battle with a Similarly-Named Restaurant

A cake from Bisous Bisous Patisserie.
A cake from Bisous Bisous Patisserie. Taylor Adams
In the case of too many Uptown restaurants named for the French word for “kiss,” one of the businesses just temporarily lost the right to its name.

The new, self-described “Social Dining Hotspot” Bisou on McKinney Avenue is temporarily ordered to go by another name as legal proceedings continue. When this spot opened, it ran headfirst into Bisous Bisous Patisserie, the beloved bakery that opened in 2015 on the very same street. After many customer mix-ups over the two spots, a slew of errant negative online reviews, and even simply asking them to change their name, the bakery crowdsourced a trademark lawsuit against the newcomer.

Making matters even more confusing, the new restaurant serves a dessert sample platter called Bisou Bisou.

On Aug. 16, Judge Jane Boyle of the United States District Court, Northern District of Texas, granted a preliminary injunction against the new spot, Bisou. The 10,000 square-foot restaurant is now “enjoined from using the term ‘Bisou’ in association with restaurant services and food and/or beverage products ... in Dallas, Texas.”

That prohibition is dramatic but not permanent. Instead, it’s meant to cover the duration of the legal proceedings, which will now continue as the two parties debate over the right to the word Bisou. Boyle’s ruling suggests that the six-year-old patisserie has suffered harm from customer confusion and is “substantially likely” to persuade a court if the case advances to trial.

The new restaurant is already moving forward with a name change. On Google Maps and social media posts, it now goes by “Cle Supper Club (Formerly Bisou),” as first reported by Eater. Its Instagram account moved from bisoudtx to cledtx. The restaurant’s Resy page, meanwhile, continues to list itself as Bisou. Its website is down, possibly as it moves to a newly named domain.

As of publication time, Cle Supper Club had not responded to a request for comment on its ongoing name change. This article will be updated if Cle replies.

Andrea Meyer, owner of Bisous Bisous Patisserie, is cautiously watching the name change unfold.

“We’re waiting to see how it all unfolds over the next week or so,” Meyer says. “We’re just trying to keep focused on what we do, not let this whole deal be too big of a distraction.”

Ironically, Meyer says, Bisou’s ongoing name change has resulted in even more confused customers calling the bakery instead.

“Now they’ve changed their online presence so people can’t find them online, and they’re calling us to find them,” she reports. “We get questions from reservations to things like, is your place kid-friendly? It’s a whole new part of training my staff. We don’t want to offend anyone that is calling, even if it is for them. Not to mention making sure the staff isn’t being catty about it, gossiping about it.”
click to enlarge A chocolate-pecan tart. - COURTESY OF BISOUS BISOUS PATISSERIE
A chocolate-pecan tart.
courtesy of Bisous Bisous Patisserie
Boyle’s ruling includes a number of interesting glimpses at the debates between the two restaurants. The bakery had pointed to a flurry of negative Google and Yelp reviews intended for the new spot as evidence that customers were confusing the two businesses.

Cle-formerly-Bisou, however, believes that the barrage of one-star reviews was because one of its managers fired an employee who has a large, loyal following on TikTok. The TikTokers then acted in mass revenge. So we can all put that chip on our 2021 bingo cards.

Boyle, who was appointed to the federal bench by President George W. Bush, offers more insight into how the copyright dispute could work. Bisous Bisous, the patisserie, registered trademarks years ago for its name in its capacity as a bakery but also more general trademarks on the words “Bisous Bisous” for “café and restaurant services” in the Dallas area.

Boyle also pointed out that the name Bisou is not common, standard or related to food. The more unusual or esoteric a name is, the easier it is to protect the name. (Think about how many restaurants are called “John’s” or “Jimmy’s” compared to “Bisou.”)

It’s also easier if the businesses are substantially similar. Bisous Bisous and Bisou are very different —one of them is a morning bakery and dessert shop, while the other describes itself, with capital letters, as a “Social Dining Hotspot” — but they do both serve French food, particularly French desserts.

One legal argument which could raise eyebrows among foodies is Boyle’s suggestion that customers are more likely to confuse Bisou and Bisous Bisous because food is cheap and interchangeable enough that casual diners don’t make much effort to research where to eat.

“Consumers likely do not exercise great care in selecting food items,” the order reads.

Now, readers of this article may well exercise great care in choosing their meals. But the opinion in the order means to distinguish buying lunch from, say, buying a car — a purchase of such huge financial importance that the shopper will apply considerably greater diligence.

Meyer says she hopes that the case can resolve itself quickly through a settlement rather than continuing to distract her from her baking business.

“Think about when you’re on the highway,” she says. “You’ve got some crazy jerk riding your tail and honking or whatever. You can let that person go and not get into a wreck and not honk at them because your horn isn’t going to teach them the right way. Or you can engage. In the long run, I just want to let that person go. You do you, you get where you’re going, and I’m going to get home in one piece.

"We would like for it to be done and to be made whole and for everyone to move on with life.”

Although Cle Supper Club, the restaurant formerly known as Bisou, has successfully erased the wave of negative reviews caused by TikTok, its reviews remain mixed. Diners on Google Maps love the lobster bisque and atmosphere but complain that the music is too loud.

On Yelp, one reviewer reported that a guest in their party was turned away at the door for the fashion crime of wearing a blazer and jean shorts.

Even with a new name, Cle Supper Club may remain a “Social Dining Hotspot” — but if you’re wearing jean shorts, there’s a great bakery down the street you can visit instead.
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Brian Reinhart has been the Dallas Observer's food critic since spring 2016. In addition, he writes baseball analysis for the Hardball Times and covers classical music for the Observer and MusicWeb International.
Contact: Brian Reinhart