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Dan Tana's loses trademark battle with Dantanna's

A federal appeals court judge in Atlanta has upheld an earlier decision allowing the sports bar Dantanna’s to keep its name in a trademark dispute filed by the iconic Dan Tana’s restaurant in Hollywood, Calif.

First opened in 1964, Dan Tana’s — named for owner Dan Tana — is an Italian trattoria that has long been favored by celebrities and Hollywood elite. Producer Aaron Spelling in the 1970s named the lead character “Dan Tanna” in the television show “Vega$.”

However, Tana did not attempt to register the restaurant’s name with the Patent and Trademark Office, or PTO, until 2005. His application was denied because the name was claimed by Dantanna’s, a sports bar in Atlanta with two locations operated by Great Concepts LLC.

After first petitioning the PTO in 2006, Tana filed a lawsuit in Georgia in 2008, citing federal and state trademark infringement, fraud and tort claims, and seeking to cancel Dantanna’s trademark registration. In the lawsuit, Tana argued that guests would be confused by the similarity in the name.

David Clapp, the founder of Dantanna’s, contended in the lawsuit that he had never lived in California and was unaware of Dan Tana’s. He said he named his concept after his two children, Daniel and Anna, with the “t” representing a plus sign.

Upholding an earlier U.S. District Court decision, the appeals court ruled last Thursday in favor of the defendant, saying that Dan Tana’s is relatively unknown outside the Los Angeles area and guests are not likely to mistake one for the other.

“Dan Tana’s is an old-world-style Italian restaurant where mustached waiters dressed in tuxedos serve classic Italian dishes off a menu embellished with Italian language,” the judgment said. “The ambiance is cozy, intimate, romantic, low-lit, and the restaurant caters to Hollywood's elite and to celebrities seeking a safe haven from paparazzi. In stark contrast, Dantanna’s in Atlanta is an upscale sports restaurant, targeting sports enthusiasts and serving contemporary American cuisine in a modern setting decorated with flat-screen televisions.”

Neither Tana nor Clapp responded to requests for comment by press time.

Contact Lisa Jennings at [email protected].

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story made reference to assertions by the plaintiff in the court ruling that David Clapp had lived in Los Angeles. Clapp said he has never lived in California

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