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Tavola Italian Kitchen vs. the Godfather, Part 2

Novato restaurant's attorneys say famed filmmaker should never have been granted a trademark for the phrase "a tavola."

It looks is taking its fight with Francis Ford Coppola over trademark infringement “to the mattresses.”

The suit, filed in April 2012 by the Coppola Family Trust, alleged trademark infringement because the trust holds a trademark to the words “a tavola.”  The words mean "to the table" in Italian and are used to describe the family-style service, without a menu, at Coppola’s Rustic restaurant in Geyserville.

But in a legal response filed for Tavola Italian Kitchen in July, the restaurant’s attorneys counter that the trademark should never have been granted because the words are part of a common Italian phrase in the restaurant industry — used by “dozens of restaurants, food wholesalers, and retailers and food catering businesses across the United States.”

Tavola Italian Kitchen co-owner, Jon Paul Pirraglia, called the legal wrangle a long, slow process.

“We did not ask for this fight. We wish it had never happened so that we could devote ourselves to running our family business, particularly in what are hard times for most people," wrote Pirraglia in an e-mail.  "But since the matter continues to be aggressively pursued by the Coppola winery, we had no choice but to stand up for our rights."

The kicker is that during the initial trademark application process, the examiner from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued a letter in 2009 asking the applicant (Coppola) to explain whether the words “a tavola” had any meaning or significance in the industry and to give English translations of all foreign wording in the mark.

The response submitted on behalf of Coppola said that there is no exact English translation of “a tavola,” adding that it means “table”… in Portuguese! (completely sidestepping the Italian meanings.)

Tavola Italian Kitchen says Coppola’s trademark should be cancelled because it was obtained through false or fraudulent registration or is merely a descriptive term that can’t be trademarked.

The local restaurant is also asking for a jury trial.

If there could be a few Italian hand gestures added to the end of the legal response, I think we know what those would be.

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Born & raised September 12, 2012 at 10:58 PM
Boycott Coppola. What an arrogant douch bag.
Jim L September 13, 2012 at 02:02 AM
Great Food Excellent service and close to home .. Where can we send money to help the local owners with the legal fund .
Jessica P September 13, 2012 at 04:42 PM
Just want to add that Tavola is our new favorite Novato restaurant. If you haven't been there, you absolutely must check it out. Everything is delicious!! The staff is friendly, knowledgeable, and on point with service. The atmosphere is sophisticated and welcoming. Overall it's a great restaurant and i hope they are very successful here in Novato. As for Coppola, i agree with "Born & Raised" above.
Leda September 13, 2012 at 04:47 PM
everyone should support Tavola by dining there as much as possible!!
Novatan September 13, 2012 at 05:11 PM
Tavola is still open? Must be looking to set a new Novato record!
Will Lamers September 13, 2012 at 06:38 PM
I doubt it is Coppola himself, it is the Coppola Family Trust. Regardless, it is a big fish in a big pond trying to intimidate the little fish. They feel that it does not matter if they are wrong or right, because they have the money to bury the little guy. However, the little fish does win occasionally. Another Novato business, Trek Winery, was sued by Trek Bycycles for trademark infringement. Andy Podshadley called their bluff, went to court, and prevailed. Now he has a new building for his winery here in Novato. Maybe he can give Tavola some advice.
sheri September 14, 2012 at 06:54 PM
Coppola is a big bully, nothing more. When I first heard of this suit, I was telling my husband how ridiculous it was that they actually were granted a trademark for the word 'table.' Now we know it's under fraudulent ways. You'd think the people giving the TM would check. In this world of Google Translate it only takes a minute. I hope Tavola gets some good publicity out of this and wins this stupid case.

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