Food News

We Saw This Coming: Carbone's Sues Carbone For Trademark Infringement

Bolognese from Carbone's Fine Food. Not to be confused with anything from Carbone, but here we are.
Bolognese from Carbone's Fine Food. Not to be confused with anything from Carbone, but here we are. Chris Wolfgang
As first reported in The Dallas Morning News, Carbone's Fine Food And Wine has filed a 34-page lawsuit with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas against new restaurant Carbone, from New York City, arguing that Carbone is infringing on Carbone's trademark and causing confusion among Dallas diners.

We wish we could act surprised, but it doesn't take a degree in copyright law to understand how the mix-ups could affect Carbone's business, which opened on Oak Lawn Avenue in 2012. When we couldn't get a reservation at Carbone, we headed to Carbone's for old time's sake, where our waiter confirmed that many people were calling Julian Barsotti's decade-old Italian restaurant trying to secure a reservation to the New York transplant that set up shop just 2 miles away.

Astute readers will note that this isn't the first time a newcomer to Dallas has stepped on the branding toes of a local business. Bisous Bisous had been serving delicate pastries from their West Village spot since 2015, but that didn't stop a new restaurant from opening in 2021 with the name Bisou Dallas. That case was recently settled, and Bisous Bisous kept its name while the other business is now known as Kiss.
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Carbone (and sister wine bar Carbone Vino) opened in the Design District in April of 2022.
Carbone Vino
Bisous Bisous' Andrea Meyer had plenty of ammo for her claim; there were misdirected deliveries, erroneous phone calls and a surge in negative Yelp reviews directed at her establishment from reviewers who felt wronged by the other restaurant.

We also can't forget the Fletcher's Original Corny Dogs versus Fletch Eats fiasco of 2020, in which the family fought over naming rights. The latter changed their name to CornDog with No Name.

The Morning News story highlights similar issues with Carbone, but two jumped out at us. First is the claim from Carbone's Fine Foods general manager Jonathan Nietzel that the restaurant has had over 20 walk-ins and some 1,400 calls from people looking for Carbone, which only takes reservations online.

Second was a recent mixup at the Central Market on Lovers Lane in Dallas, where an end cap of Carbone-branded pasta sauce was displayed with signage for the restaurant logo for Carbone’s. Per the story, Barsotti only found out when an investor called him to congratulate him on making a deal with Central Market.

As two similar restaurants serving similar cuisine, the case will likely come down a judge's opinion of which restaurant established rights to the name first, either via trademark registration or using the name in the course of business.

Carbone's Fine Food & Wine, 4208 Oak Lawn Avenue. Dinner 5:30 p.m. - 9 p.m. Sunday - Thursday, and 5:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m. Friday - Saturday. Lunch 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. daily.

Carbone Dallas, 1617 Hi Line Drive, 5-11 p.m. Tuesday - Sunday.
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Chris Wolfgang has been a contributor to the Dallas Observer since 2015. Originally from Florida, Chris moved to Dallas in 1997 and has carried on a secret affair with the Oxford comma for over 20 years.
Contact: Chris Wolfgang