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Tavola Responds to Coppola's Trademarking Lawsuit

Novato restaurant co-owner Jon Paul Pirraglia says the name of his restaurant creates no conflict with the rights asserted by Oscar-winning filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola.

The recent by Francis Ford Coppola against the Pirraglia family — owners of in Novato — has everyone re-enacting the best lines from the Godfather movie franchise and wondering if the Coppolas and the Pirraglias will come together ... uh, for the benefit of the two families.

In an email to Novato Patch, Jon Paul Pirraglia, a co-owner of the Hamilton Marketplace eatery, believes in good faith that the name of his restaurant “creates no actual conflict with the rights asserted by the Coppola family in their recently filed lawsuit.”

He adds that his family-owned restaurant has “put considerable effort into explaining this to the Coppola family in order to achieve a resolution of the dispute without resort to litigation.”

Francis Ford Coppola filed a lawsuit on April 2 in San Francisco federal court against the local eatery, asserting that its name is too close to the trademark held by Coppola on the words, “a tavola.”

According to the Coppola winery website, the Italian words mean “to the table” and are used to promote a special style of serving food without a menu. At Coppola’s Rustic restaurant in Geyserville, Tuesday nights are reserved for the “a tavola” dining experience.

The letter from Coppola’s attorney to the restaurant’s father and son ownership team of Anthony and Jon Paul Pirraglia states that in using the name Tavola Italian Kitchen, the restaurant — located in a along with a Safeway and a pet supplies store — would cause confusion among consumers.

“… Customers and prospective customers of your restaurant are likely to be misled into believing that your goods and services originate from, are sponsored by, or are associated with Francis Ford Coppola Winery or even Francis Ford Coppola himself, when, indeed, they are not,” the three-page letter reads.

It goes on to request that the owners phase out the use of the Tavola mark “within a commercially reasonable period of time.”

Tavola Italian Kitchen was formerly a pizzeria and underwent a change in in mid-2011. The food now reflects the “farm to table” movement and is prepared with locally sourced ingredients.

The Pirraglias' company, TORG Holding, had also applied for a trademark of Tavola Italian Kitchen in May 2011 but were sent a letter in September 2011 from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office with refusals based on a likelihood of confusion with three other registered trademark holders: “Tavola Rossa,” “Buona Tavola” and Coppola’s “A Tavola.” The company had a six-month time limit to provide responses to the refusals to keep the application active.

Pirraglia does not say what future actions he plans take in the matter but says that he appreciates the many expressions of support he’s received from the community and is assuring customers that they will continue to provide them with a great dining experience.

In the court of public opinion, the Pirraglias are favored with some hoping the two parties will sit down “a tavola” in Novato and work things out over a bowl of Pork Ragu Strozzapreti paired with a bottle of Coppola’s Votre Santé Pinot Noir.

Cindy April 09, 2012 at 02:00 PM
I think Coppola is being a bully. I threw out 2 bottles of Coppola wine and will never buy Coppola wine again. He needs to watch the anti-bullying documentary!!!
Craig Belfor April 09, 2012 at 02:12 PM
I Googled Tavola, and there are lots of them all over the country. That's a lot of horses heads for Frankie to put all of them out of business. Frankie, whose mom named him after a car company, previously ran Copia, another word he tried to own, into the ground in Napa. The various Tavola restaurants do not want to be associated with with Frankies constant blunders. Stick to what you're good at Frank, showing Italians killing each other. Leave the kitchen to the cooks.
Novato Chess Club April 09, 2012 at 02:26 PM
Talk about having too much time on your hands....Tavola is a good spot, and he gets good publicity now..have not been there in awhile. Thank you Coppola, IT IS LESS EXPENSIVE THAN NAPA:-)
Bob April 09, 2012 at 02:26 PM
There are a lot of fine restaurants in Healdsburg that I no longer have to go to Geyserville to eat at A Tavola, I don't like eating with bullies. And there are a lot of wineries that have live music during the summer that I don't have to go to Coppola's winery!!!! I will however, make an effort to go to Tavola Italian Kitchen to show my support.
25 Year Resident April 09, 2012 at 03:19 PM
About 20 years ago I was having dinner with the founders of AOL and heard this story. One of them was part of a group that founded a seafood restaurant and they decided to name it Cousteau's. Within a few months, they were contacted by the lawyers for the Cousteau Society and told to change the name. Their lawyer replied that a 'cousteau' is a type of cutting blade and they refused. After months of wrangling, they received a letter from the society's lawyers allowing them to use the name so long as they put an item on their menu stating that they were not associated with the Cousteau Society. The restaurant's lawyer responding that they would comply only if the Cousteau Society would place a note on their boats, movies, and other materials that they were not associated with the restaurant. Eventually the threats stopped.
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr April 09, 2012 at 03:48 PM
Francis Ford Coppola is being infantile. Contact him at www.franciscoppolawinery.com or 300 Via archimedes, Geyserville, CA 95441 and tell him so.
hope herndon April 09, 2012 at 04:40 PM
Shame on Mr. Coppola. What kind of an oversized ego does he have? I would have never associated the name of this restaurant with him. So get over it and stop the nonsense. And now will definitely go to this restaurant. I may have skipped it but certainly not now.
Michael April 09, 2012 at 05:03 PM
until this article I had no idea Coppola had a restaurant under this similar name so I was not confused. Lawyers make up so much crap these days. Ego maniacs seem to be everywhere. These kinds of people push their crap until people push back. They clog our courts with this BS.
Michael April 09, 2012 at 05:03 PM
good one 25 year resident.
sheri April 09, 2012 at 05:52 PM
This is so ridiculous. Why do people of power think they have the right to everything? I am so disgusted by FF Coppola! If Tavola is an Italian word meaning table, then it's a generic word that should not be trade markable. I understand that the two restaurants sound similar but it's not a made up word or phrase, it means table and it is appropriate for a restaurant. They didn't copy it, there is no 'A'. Also, there are so many other places with similar names such as La Boulange and Le Boulanger. So what? The public is intelligent enough to be able to tell that they are different restaurants. Get off your high horse, Coppola, and quit harassing small businesses. I will never try his restaurant, that's for sure!
Born & raised April 09, 2012 at 07:58 PM
The names are not similar. One is TAVOLA the other is called RUSTIC. What a waste of time. Coppola is a joke.
Tony Elshout April 09, 2012 at 10:59 PM
Change the name to Antonio's Tavola and the Bully Francis Ford would be very hard pressed to proceed with his trademark infringement.
Kathy Hansen April 10, 2012 at 03:07 PM
Stupid. There was a liquer store here in Novato called "Booze for You" and "Toys R US" sued them. Stupid, silly everyone is sue happy!
Tony Elshout April 10, 2012 at 04:47 PM
Tavola has a slight problem, their holding company TORG Holding Corporation has surrendered its registration according to the California Secretary of State: Entity Name: TORG HOLDING CORPORATION Entity Number: C2595750 Date Filed: 06/14/2006 Status: SURRENDER Jurisdiction: CONNECTICUT Entity Address: 544 MAIN AVE Entity City, State, Zip: NORWALK CT 06851 Agent for Service of Process: MICHAEL SETH PIRRAGLIA Agent Address: 1259 HIGHBLUFF AVE Agent City, State, Zip: SAN MARCOS CA 92078
OddFX April 12, 2012 at 11:54 PM
Come on. "The Pirraglias' company, TORG Holding, had also applied for a trademark of Tavola Italian Kitchen in May 2011 but were sent a letter in September 2011 from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office with refusals based on a likelihood of confusion with three other registered trademark holders: “Tavola Rossa,” “Buona Tavola” and Coppola’s “A Tavola.” The company had a six-month time limit to provide responses to the refusals to keep the application active." The Pirraglias family tried to do the same thing and trademark a name they are now claiming is a common term. I thought the restaurant at that shopping center was still that awful Pasta Moto. The Pirraglias are getting a lot of publicity out of this. I doubt the Pirraglias were contacting the Coppola "family" as they say. It was in the Chronicle today that Mr. Coppola just got back into the country and didn't even know of this "lawsuit". I am going to try out the restaurant but when I am in there I will complain that they are putting up a stink about someone trademarking a word they also tried to trademark. I am glad they are buying food from Indian Valley Farm and Garden. That's what people should be talking about.
Steve April 13, 2012 at 04:25 PM
I am happy to say that this is an issue upon which I am in complete agreement with Mr. Ghigliotti. Never thought I'd see the day.
sfcalady April 19, 2012 at 10:14 PM
A Tavola, translated means "to the table" . Table is an everyday common word. "To the table" and just "table" are in fact completely different. Table is a noun and the other (A Tavola) is verb (an action). I don't see Intel suing Intelnet or intellicast for that same reason just because it has some of the same letters, or Martha Stewarts Kitchen, suing the restaurant called "Kitchen" or anyone using the word "kitchen". When selecting a name so generically common as Table/Tavola one must accept there will be many similar variations on it. It's bound to happen. C'mon! I'll bet you there's a dozen restaurants in Italy called Tavola. Coppola's attorneys are wasting their time and big muscle going after a small restaurateur like this. They should be ashamed of themselves as it could potentially backfire upon their image and affect them nationally pending what other papers pick this up.

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