One of the best-known names in the hospitality industry in the capital region is at the center of a state trademark litigation.
The owner of Mazzone Hospitality LLC is suing Matthew Mazzone for starting and running a business similar to his father Angelo Mazzone.
Compass Group and Mazzone Hospitality LLC filed lawsuit against Matthew Mazzone in Albany on Monday; his company Mazzone Wedding Group LLC; and his wife, Suzy Mazzone, for unfair competition, brand dilution and fraudulent trading practices.
The plaintiffs are demanding compensation and an injunction.
Angelo and Matthew Mazzone did not respond to requests for comment on this story. Neither did the lawyer representing the plaintiffs.
Mazzone Hospitality had humble beginnings in the 1980s and grew into a dominant restaurant / hospitality business. One of his possessions was the Glen Sanders Mansion in Scotia. A Compass subsidiary acquired it in 2017, renamed it Mazzone Hospitality LLC, leaving Angelo Mazzone at the helm. He is currently listed as a “Founder” on the Mazzone Hospitality LLC website.
Mazzone Wedding Group is much newer. Matthew Mazzone, a longtime employee of Mazzone Hospitality under both owners, reportedly went self-employed in 2020 and started operations in earnest earlier this year.
The company’s website advertises full service wedding and event planning, including catering. It says:
“Matt Mazzone is well known in the hospitality industry. Matt Mazzone, former CFO & COO of Mazzone Hospitality, has what it takes to take this new company to the next level now. Matt’s strengths in finance, team building, and growing businesses are unmatched for most. When he joined the family business at a young age, Matt learned to love and respect the hard work, passion, and dedication that it takes to run a hospitality business. His passion is hospitality and he is now devoting himself to the community of a family-run catering company that is built on values, family and community. “
In the lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern Borough of New York City, plaintiffs state and allege that:
- They own “the Brands” – the names, trademarks, insignia, logos and designations – for “Mazzone Hospitality” and “Mazzone Catering”.
- Mathew and Suzy Mazzone founded a competing wedding and events group called Mazzone Wedding Group and Mazzone Weddings.
- Promotional materials call it family owned and operated, citing Matthew Mazzone’s previous experience with Mazzone Hospitality.
- This is unlawful embezzlement and if it continues the plaintiffs will suffer irreparable harm.
- Angelo Mazzone got into the restaurant business in 1980 when he bought Peggy’s in Schenectady; 1988 expanded with the purchase of Glen Sanders restaurant in Scotia; expanded into external gastronomy and developed it into a culinary empire with exclusive catering contracts at many top locations in the region.
- Angelo Mazzone’s sale of his hospitality and catering business included all rights to the brand and its brands, including but not limited to the Mazzone Catering and Mazzone Hospitality trade names.
- Matthew Mazzone’s employment contract with Compass prohibited him from competing with the plaintiffs or soliciting their clients should he leave the company.
- When Matthew Mazzone left Mazzone Hospitality LLC around April 7, 2020, he signed a separation agreement that prohibited him from soliciting plaintiffs’ customers for a competing business for 18 months.
- A week later, he registered the domain name MazzoneWeddings.com.
- Matthew and Suzy Mazzone founded the new company in early 2021, he as President and Owner, she as Vice President.
- The confusingly similar name is an attempt to replace and free the goodwill in the Mazzone brand; their marketing clearly shows the attempt to create such a connection.
- The plaintiffs’ attorney sent letters to Matthew Mazzone on March 10 reminding him of his contractual obligations; on March 22, in which he asked him to stop using the Mazzone name in connection with a New York catering company; and on May 7th he asked him to change his name and warned of legal action if he did not.
The plaintiffs demand:
- A statement of all profits, profits, savings and benefits that Defendants have made by trading under the Mazzone name;
- Legal fees;
- Punitive damages, statutory damages of $ 1,000 per violation, and payment of three times the actual damages suffered by plaintiffs;
- A temporary and permanent failure to use any name, trademark or designation that is similar to Plaintiffs’ Mazzone trademarks; from the assertion of a connection with the plaintiffs; and from other unfair competitors with the plaintiffs;
- An order that the defendants recall any marketing or promotional items that would violate the injunction from sales and deliver them for destruction.
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