The national chain 7-Eleven is hauling two Brooklyn convenience stores to court for trademark infringement, reports the NY Daily News, claiming their signs are too-close-for-comfort to the chain’s logo. But our local market, Kensington’s Eleven-7 Food Mart on Coney Island Avenue, won’t give up their name without a fight.
7-Eleven’s lawyers filed papers on Monday with the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, claiming that the owners of Eleven-7 Food Mart at 560 Coney Island Avenue and Z-Eleven Deli on Henry Street in Carroll Gardens, are deliberately trying to “deceive consumers” and hitch on to the corporate branding, according to the NY Business Journal.
This isn’t the first time that the Food Mart has butted heads with its corporate doppelganger. When the 7-Eleven opened at 546 Coney Island Avenue in 2013, caddy-corner to the Food Mart, it was a contentious topic among neighbors, with some fiercely defending the stalwart Food Mart and others welcoming the new 24-hour option. Mohammed Khan, owner of 11 Seven (now appearing as Eleven-7), told the NY Daily News that the bodega came with the name when he bought it in 2003. Khan told the paper that he was concerned for his business in an article published right before the 7-Eleven opened its doors.
We stopped by the Eleven-7 Food Mart today and spoke with the store’s manager, Amjad Baig, who argued that they were never a 7-Eleven knock-off, and said they’re going to fight the lawsuit to proudly keep their sign. He said that the business has been at this location for 35 years (though it changed ownership about 13 years prior) and the sign has been up for over a decade.
As for the resemblance between Eleven-7’s sign and the national chain’s logo? Pure coincidence, said Baig.
“We registered the name with the city 13 years ago,” said Baig. “Why didn’t they say something then, if the names were too similar?”
“All these are 7-Elevens,” he said, pointing to the list of franchises from a stack of legal paperwork delivered this week. “We are Eleven-7. It’s different. I think the 7-Eleven people think they are powerful, they can do whatever they wish. We believe that we are 100 percent in the right, and I believe in the American court system,” said Baig.
Baig also defended the store’s longstanding relationship with the community. “Last week, a woman came in and told me that she used to visit the store as a kid, and saw me when I was just learning how to walk. Our clients are part of this community, they’ve come here for the last 25 to 30 years,” he said.
When we first walked in to the Eleven-7 Food Mart and asked about the lawsuit, another man standing behind the counter completely dismissed it; waving his hand and saying “Oh come on, please!” The man didn’t want to give us his name.
What do you think about the trademark infringement lawsuit? Which bodega do you prefer and why? Have you changed your shopping habits since the 7-Eleven opened in 2013? We want to hear from you in the comments section below.