The Kraken moved quickly Friday to head off a legal dispute with a University District punk-rock bar alleging trademark infringement and tortious interference in a $3.5 million lawsuit filed the previous day.
A statement by the NHL expansion team Friday night said it is dropping the name Kraken Bar & Grill from a restaurant planned for its $80 million Northgate Mall training facility opening in September. “When we were made aware of the objection to the name, we started making plans to rebrand the future bar and grill,’’ Lance Lopes, the team’s executive vice president and legal counsel, said in the written statement. “We pride ourselves on being advocates for our community – especially small businesses – and will no longer use the name Kraken Bar and Grill.
“We look forward to announcing the restaurant’s new name in the near future.’’
Mark Walters, the lawyer for The Kraken Bar & Lounge, said by email: “That’s a good start, but it doesn’t undo the damage done to the bar’s brand which is now mistakenly linked to the Team’s name. And it’s unclear how the Team will be able to rebrand their planned bar in a manner that does not use the word “kraken” when it will be appended to the Team’s practice facility. In short, The Kraken Bar & Lounge faces a host of challenges to preserve its brand identity even if the Team picks a new name.”
The lawsuit, filed in King County Superior Court, said the punk bar had used its Kraken name since 2011 and built a reputation as one of the few remaining “dive bars’’ in the city. It said that after the announcement, new patrons donning “hockey themed attire’’ began showing up wanting to make their venue a hockey bar – to the chagrin of long-term patrons.
It also alleges the team’s continuous marketing soon buried the bar’s online and social-media presence and confused customers thinking the punk bar had somehow been sponsored by the team. The lawsuit said the bar’s owners tolerated the situation until this month, when the team announced its planned Northgate Mall practice-facility restaurant run by team consultant Mick McHugh, the former longtime owner of F.X. McCrory’s Steak Chop & Oyster House in Pioneer Square.
The lawsuit asks that the team be banned from using “The Seattle Kraken’’ or similar naming and says the $3.5 million damage estimate is for investments and sweat work put in by the bar’s owners the past decade. But the team’s statement suggests it hopes the restaurant naming change will be the end of things.
“We salute the mission of the Kraken Bar & Lounge and wish them well in the future,’’ Lopes said.