What’s in a name? Apparently, for a neighborhood bodega fighting against an incoming corporate giant, a name means a lot.
After a protracted, legal trademark battle, Coney Island Avenue’s longstanding Eleven 7 Food Mart at Beverley Road quietly changed their sign earlier this week. A store employee told BKLYNER that the change was a direct result of a trademark infringement lawsuit filed by the cattycorner 7-Eleven.
7-Eleven’s lawyers filed the suit with the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn last year, claiming that the bodega owners deliberately tried to “deceive consumers” by ripping off corporate branding.
But Eleven-7’s manager Amjad Baig denied the claims when we spoke to him last year, arguing that they pre-dated the chain by at least two decades, and the name similarity was purely coincidental. The 7-Eleven opened on the block in 2013.
Baig said they would fight the lawsuit and, in the meantime, display their sign proudly. But when we stopped in yesterday, an employee shrugged his shoulders.
The corporation has more money and more lawyers, the employee said, painting them as the David to 7-Eleven’s Goliath.
Inside, the store looks exactly the same.
Oddly enough, this isn’t the first store to lose their name to an incoming national brand on that very street, pointed out reader Greg Rothman. More than a decade ago, two fried chicken places jockeyed between similar names.
In what is now Madina Restaurant at 563 Coney Island Avenue, a restaurant called itself ‘Kantacky Fried Chicken’. But this greasy spoon stood a few storefronts away from the nearest Kentucky Fried Chicken, which property records indicate opened in 2002. “Those A’s on the sign clearly looked like an afterthought,” Rothman said.
Madina’s owners also say they opened around 2002, so it’s unclear if there was any overlap between the competing chicken joints. Does anyone know which opened first?