For those lucky enough to have driven Victoria’s Great Ocean Road to the surf coast town of Lorne in the last 10 months, you will have seen the bright red Totti’s sign hanging from the side of the Lorne Hotel. There’s obviously no Victorian food snobbery at play, as the first expansion south of the border for Justin Hemmes’ Merivale group is proving just as popular as the four existing outlets in Sydney. As this beach bum can attest, Lorne’s laid-back bush-meets-beach vibe doesn’t extend to getting a table at Totti’s without a booking.
For those lucky few who have managed to book in, the menu highlights are the iconic wood-fired flat bread, burrata and well-seasoned cherry tomatoes, with fresh Victorian seafood providing more than a nod to the ocean on the front doorstep.
But just how iconic is the restaurant’s name?
This doppelganger restaurant in Paris has popped up on Hemmes’ radar which appears to have stolen both the restaurant’s name (minus the ‘s) and logo design.
Quite understandably, Justin Hemmes does not subscribe to the idea that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!
For well-known restaurants, whether single locations or multiple-outlets like Totti’s, their reputation for high quality food and top-notch service is crucial to success. Copycats, both locally and overseas, threaten this reputation so it is essential that restauranteurs are attuned to this risk and the utility of trade mark protection, both local and international.
Going back a couple of generations, there seemed to be a steady stream of hospo outlets popping up in holiday destinations like Noosa with similar or identical names to the top restaurants in Melbourne and Sydney, with many customers assuming (incorrectly) that the resort restaurant was an offshoot of the original. Cheap travel, influencers, bloggers, and the cult of the celebrity chef means that restaurants’ reputations are no longer hyperlocal. In the hospitality space, where reputation is no longer bound by geographic borders, we are seeing some nefarious attempts to cash in on hatted reputations on a broader scale.
Hemmes and his team were ahead of the 8-ball. They had already filed trade mark applications locally and abroad which will help them fight off any dangerous imitators. They might also rely on copyright in the TOTTI’S logo.
But for passionate food and beverage purveyors who haven’t yet considered brand protection, the team at By George Legal are willing to help so you can focus on what really matters: sous vide!
We have assisted some of Melbourne’s most recognisable restaurants develop and protect their valuable brands and would love to help with yours.
For further details on Totti’s trade mark stoush see the original Good Food article here.