I’m siding with Francis Ford Coppola on this one

People who are born with original thoughts don’t steal other people’s great ideas; they trademark their own. They all “get” plagiarism. While they might be inspired by others, they don’t take someone else’s words or images for their own. It’s just not necessary. This is also what makes them leaders, not followers.

The question of who’s on first and what’s on second is an interesting one. In the law suit that Francis Ford Coppola has initiated with Tavola Italian Kitchen in Novato, Coppola asserts that he first opened his restaurant called “Rustic” in Geyserville, California in 2008. Both Rustic and his San Francisco Café Zoetrope serve their food in A Tavola style (Italian translated “to the table”) since 2008.

From lohud.com

“The A Tavola mark is inherently distinctive and has become known by the public as indicative of the high quality restaurant services provided by the Coppola Family Trust,” reads the 93-page lawsuit.“

Inspired by Francis Coppola’s favorite way of enjoying a meal, Rustic and Café Zoetrope … offer a restaurant service experience under the name A Tavola. During A Tavola, guests at Coppola Family Trust restaurants are not provided with printed menus. Instead, servers come to each table offering an assortment of family-style selections.”

Then a year ago, owner Anthony Pirraglia decided to name his new Novato restaurant Tavola Italian Kitchen; but not right away, mind you. He first named it Pasta Moto, then changed the name to Tavola Italian Kitchen.

So, Coppola’s on first, even though one is a style of serving in a restaurant and the other is the name of a restaurant. They are both about food, and that’s what usually determines a trademark… Is anyone else using the term in the same business?

What I found most intriguing about that story is that this Novato restaurant had another name first, then changed it. Anyone in marketing will tell you, you don’t change the name of a business unless it’s really in trouble or there’s some other mysterious motive. Go, Francis! Restaurant protocol is just that… I can get to either location in about a half hour, depending on whether I’m going north or south. They’re pretty close from my terrace, so I can see where someone who began something in his neighborhood doesn’t need anyone else sidling in on his great trademarked idea. Yes, Coppola had this word trademarked. That’s the real catch.

I’m siding with Coppola on this one, because I understand it.

I’m beginning to see “Dark & Delicious™” events begin to pop up for Petite Sirah… Even calling them Dark & Delicious Petite Sirah events.

Hey, I started that seven years ago, with early plannings and then executing each year.

It’s like the story of the little red hen. I’ve done ALL the heavy lifting for that one, and all of a sudden others can now have a Dark & Delicious™ event for Petite Sirah? Talk about a way to confuse consumers. “Are you really headed to Massachusetts?” one asks… “No,” is the answer. Even more egregious for me are the events that have happened in San Francisco, using our name. We’ve been to San Francisco with a Dark & Delicious Petite Sirah™ event. How can someone else just go ahead and schedule another one? So, the inevitable. I’ve had to trademark it.

And, I’ve got my cease and desist letters ready to send for any PS Dark & Delicious™ events in the future, if PS I Love You isn’t putting them on.

It will be interesting to see how it all plays out for Francis Ford Coppola in the court system. I’m sure that Mr. C will not be backing down on this one, and I can’t say as I blame him.

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12 Responses to “I’m siding with Francis Ford Coppola on this one”

  1. You have a legitimate complaint, Coppola does not. His restaurant is called Rustic and he should be protected from others misusing the name of his business. But how the food is served, come on. Has his platoon of lawyers trademarked “family-style”, or have they trademarked “family” or “style”?
    Probably they will now!

    Copyright and trademark lawsuits are too often crush competition.

  2. Jo Diaz says:

    Patrick, I may be super sensitive to this issue right now, because of learning that this wine shop in MA has had not one, but two events. The first one alluded to D&D, the second one was a full blown Dark & Delicious Petite Sirah tasting. So, I did a search on Dark & Delicious and then found two of them in SF as well.

    This is why, knowing that I may just be really sensitive, that I’m very curious to see it play out.

  3. Jo: Let’s ignore Coppola for a moment. I’d like to see you write an expanded post about why you don’t think other people should do Dark and Delicious Petite Sirah events.

    I’m not taking a position here, but would love for you to answer a couple of questions: Wasn’t the point of developing Dark and Delicious as a slogan to promote Petite Sirah? So isn’t it good if others use the slogan?

  4. Jo Diaz says:


    I don’t care if anyone refers to petite Sirah as Dark & Delicious, so that’s not what’s been trademarked.

    It’s the “event” Dark & Delicious Petite Sirah that’s been trademarked. This is so that any wine shops or wine event people don’t misrepresent who will be pouring at these events.

    Of the over 1000 producers of Petite Sirah, only 80+ producers of Petite Sirah pay an annual membership fee to support the marketing efforts, that equals about $18,000 a year. This is a very small budget; and could really use support, not tendencies toward taking advantage. It is they, the members, who have a right to this event… Not the other 920 or so who don’t support the efforts, but are happy to be riding the coattails. (It’s a really sore point for me, as you are now gathering.)

    Also, our event is very wine and food based, in order to have people get how food friendly Petite Sirah can be. So, if it’s bastardized (i.e., without that educational component), what we’re doing becomes diluted, and confusing to consumers.

    I’ve spent seven years doing all the marketing that’s made this a hit with people. Having others ride these coattails just isn’t right or fair, and our government has set rules into place to protect our rights, that have come from a lot of hard work.

    It would be like the Aspen Food & Wine Festival created by American Express having another group come to town and create another Aspen Food & Wine Festival, just because they know that the name has great traction.

    This is exactly why anyone *can* trademark an event. I wasn’t going to bother, because I couldn’t believe anyone would be that bold, and then the Google Alert came in. I had to act. My board has already suggested that I do it, and I didn’t think that people were that bold, but they are.

  5. Thanks Jo. I think the coattail effect, while irritating, isn’t something that’s going to hurt you, assuming the non-payers produce wine that won’t hurt PS’s image.

    However, the food-friendliness aspect is a very good point. If only there had been a good PS by the glass when I stopped on I-5 at Harris Ranch the other day … settled for Jenner Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. You need to do a Harris Ranch Dark & Delicious.

  6. DWFFC says:

    Yawwwwnnnnnm Siding witha boor, how booring!
    I bet his food is a bland and simple as his wines.

  7. Jo Diaz says:

    It only hurts because I figure it one of two ways, given the present reality:

    1) I’m either paid for 30 hours of work for PSILY each month, and volunteer for the other 70 hours – or –
    2) I’m paid at $30 an hour, for a skill set that’s way beyond the pay scale.

    (My board is very aware and sensitive to this issue and would love to help, but are helpless; because, people just don’t want to belong to one-more-advocacy-group.)

    Either way, I’m obviously working because I have a passion or I’m insane… This is where I’m deciding if it’s pleasure or pain. (PS Turns into S&M, there’s a title for you.)

    If we were to get Harris Ranch into the fold, they’d learn a lot; and they’d have more opportunities to have their wine reviewed, getting critical feedback. It all helps the end goal.

    Thanks for asking. This has been fun, sort of… S&M style…

  8. Jo Diaz says:

    Yup… that’s my claim to fame… boring. Bland as oatmeal, and love eating it. (LOL)

  9. David Vergari says:

    Sorry, Jo, I cannot agree with you. Coppola and his minions come off like a bully in this farce. Are they going after other establishments that use “Tavola”? Good luck on that one!

  10. Jo Diaz says:

    David, he’s not getting much support, that’s for sure.

  11. AJ says:

    Just an FYI they changed the name because they did a massive renovation to the restaurant, inside and out. It was a new concept based on local artisan product. The name Pasta Moto was not representative of this. This is why they changed. Francis has A Tavola night w/e. It would be one thing if his restaurant was named Tavola, but it is not…….. Tavola means table,
    In Italian mind you, should he trademark words like chair and fork as well. Give me a break, doesn’t he have enough….now he has to beat up a family restaurant where the family ACTAULLY WORKS. Pathetic. Take the gun, leave the cannoli and get your facts straight, especially about why the name change…..it’s their business, not yours.

  12. Jo Diaz says:

    the great thing about an idea is the right for all of us to have opinions. I respect yours, too. (Democracy)

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