Friday, September 25, 2009

Potential Buyer of “Crazy Horse Too” Strip Club Wants “Crazy Horse 3” To Change Its Name

How many times has a client wanted to buy a strip club that was seized by the federal government as part of a racketeering and tax evasion investigation into the club’s owner -- Rick Rizzolo, who had reputed ties to organized crime families -- but was worried that the “reputation and goodwill” (those in Las Vegas will understand why I put those words in quotes) of the club would be diluted by another strip club that opened up in the meantime by a third party using a similar mark to identify its strip club? (I know, another one of those cases).

The trademark angle is just one part of the story reported by the Las Vegas Sun today (link here) about the likely sale of the infamous Las Vegas strip cub “Crazy Horse Too.” The saga behind the Crazy Horse Too is a long and colorful one – for a collection of articles about Rick Rizzolo, including the saga of the Crazy Horse Too, visit Steve Miller’s “The Rick Rizzolo Connection.”

But as this blog is not so much interested in mobsters and strippers and focused squarely on all things trademark, I found it interesting that, according to the article, the agreement entered into by the U.S. Marshals and the yet to be named buyer hinges on the owner of another Las Vegas strip club giving up the name “Crazy Horse 3” (which was known as The Penthouse Club up until very recently when new owners took over – and apparently decided to trade off the “reputation” of the “Crazy Horse”) so that the buyer of the “Crazy Horse Too” can be assured of keeping intact the exclusive right to use the name Crazy Horse in connection with strip club services (not to mention all of the fantastic goodwill that goes along with that name in this town).

Pete Rinato, the attorney representing the prospective buyer, stated that a lawsuit was being prepared to be filed against the owners of the Crazy Horse 3 demanding that they give up the name.

Of course, that’s not the only trademark battle that Crazy Horse Too is fighting. A South Carolina man named Carl Reid applied for and received a trademark registration for the mark CRAZY HORSE for “Entertainment services, namely, exotic dance performances” in 2006. This registration served to block Crazy Horse Too’s own application in 2007 for registration of the mark CRAZY HORSE TOO GENTLEMAN'S CLUB for “Night clubs; Entertainment in the nature of dance performances.”

On July 9, 2009, Crazy Horse Too filed two cancellation proceedings against Reid (including a second one for the mark PURE GOLD'S CRAZY HORSE) with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. See Crazy Horse Too A Gentleman's Club v. Reid, Cancellation Nos. 92051211 and 92051225. Reid failed to answer and so the TTAB entered a default on September 8, 2009. Crazy Horse Too will likely get a default judgment and the two registered marks cancelled unless Reid steps forward soon.

But there is another “crazy horse” on the horizon. In fact, what I find most “crazy” about the competing use of this particular mark is how Sodipa (SAS) has never taken any action against any of them. Sodipa is the French company which owns the international registration for the mark CRAZY HORSE which is most famously associated with the showgirl revue Le Crazy Horse de Paris (which has an Americanized version showing nightly at the MGM Grand – although the show was originally named Le Femme when it first opened at the MGM Grand many years back). [Don’t you think that Crazy Horse Too was also trying to trade off a little bit of the “Crazy Horse” reputation and goodwill created by Sodipa – at least until Crazy Horse Too was able to create its own reputation (which it certainly has)].

Unfortunately for Sodipa, the company did not apply for a Request for Extension of Protection under the Madrid Protocol for its CRAZY HORSE international registration until very recently (March 20, 2008), and the request is currently suspended pending the outcome of several pending applications for the mark CRAZY HORSE with earlier effective filing dates, including the application filed by Crazy Horse Too on September 14, 2007.

Of course, I know what you’re all wondering – where does the “Crazy Horse 1” strip club fit into all of this? I do recall that there was at one time a very small strip club on the East side of the strip that was named “Crazy Horse” around the time that the “Crazy Horse Too” opened (and thus the basis for the play on the word “too”). Don’t know if it even exists anymore – difficult to find using a search engine with most of the hits being for “Crazy Horse Too” or the MGM production “Crazy Horse Paris.” Perhaps I should go out tonight and conduct some “research” in order to better write about these important trademark issues

[Update: Soonafter I published this post, the Las Vegas Review Journal posted an article (link here) on the lawsuit filed in Clark County District Court today by CC Holdings (managed indirectly by Christopher Condotti of Chicago) against Russell Road Food and Beverage, the company doing business as Crazy Horse 3.]

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