Augusta bar owner files suit against Aiken bar of same name

The owner of an Augusta bar has filed a federal lawsuit against a former employee whom he claims stole the name, logo and styling of his business to open an Aiken bar by the same name.

 

In an accusation filed this month in U.S. District Court in Augusta, Tipsey McStumbles LLC, which is registered to Michael Anglin of Martinez, alleges its former employee, Christopher Griffin, began a "deceptive scheme to open a competing Irish Pub by the same name."

That bar, also named Tipsey McStumbles, opened in March in Aiken to controversy, as residents complained about the skimpy "Catholic schoolgirl" outfits worn by female bartenders.

Those outfits are at the heart of the Augusta Tipsey McStumbles's complaint.

They allege that in December 2010, they entered into a business agreement with Griffin in which he would operate the business in exchange for a $5,000-a-month payment to Anglin for 12 months.

Eventually, according to the agreement, Griffin could become a partner. But by March, Griffin failed to comply with the agreement and Anglin took over the operation of Tipsey McStumbles in Augusta.

The plaintiff accuses Griffin of incorporating the name "Tipsey McStumbles Aiken LLC" and applying for a fraudulent copyright registration for the "Tipsey Mark," or logo, in December 2010. At the time, Griffin was working at the Augusta bar and applied for the copyright without the knowledge of Anglin, court documents allege.

Aside from the name and logo, the lawsuit says Griffin stole Tipsey's "trade dress features" for his Aiken bar. These include the bar's wood floors, exposed ceiling beams and the waitresses' uniforms, which consist of plaid skirts and short tops.

The plaintiff is seeking a preliminary and permanent injunction to stop Griffin from using the name, logo and dress of Tipsey McStumbles at his Aiken bar, in addition to punitive damages.

Last week, Judge J. Randal Hall denied the plaintiff's request for a temporary restraining order under a rule that would not allow the court to issue the order without first hearing from the defendant.

Writing in the order, Hall said the plaintiff had not clearly shown that "immediate or irreparable loss would result" before Griffin was heard in opposition.

A hearing over the plaintiff's request for a preliminary injunction against Griffin is scheduled for Monday at 4 p.m. in U.S. District Court.

A message left for Anglin at the Augusta location of Tipsey McStumbles was not returned Tuesday. Robert Mullins, the attorney representing Tipsey McStumbles LLC, said his client was seeking to guard his business interests.

"He filed this litigation to protect his interest in the Tipsey McStumbles name."

Griffin contends that he created the Tipsey McStumbles name.

"I am the original creator of this name -- this business -- and founded this entire creation," Griffin said in a message left in response to a request for comment. "I believe we will prevail in court."