A 52-seat, family-run restaurant in Brunswick, Maine, has agreed to amend their name, Tao, after settling a federal lawsuit brought by the Tao Group. The international company's internal watchdog, Tao Licensing, claimed the Asian restaurant's name choice resulted in "trademark dilution and infringement, unfair competition and cybersquatting." "TAO" was registered as a trademark for its restaurants in 2001 and for entertainment facilities in 2010.
While the owners believed they had a strong case, the cost and time spent defending their position persuaded them to settle and relaunch as Tao Yuan. "Unspecified financial compensation" had also been charged against the Brunswick restaurant for "damages and legal fees "
The Stadler family argued their "Tao" inspiration was the Chinese character meaning peach, alluding to a fable of a fisherman finding "a secluded utopia in a peach grove." They countered the international company's inspiration was a different Chinese character and derived from the enlightened, non confrontational tradition of Taoism.
The Tao Group operates in Las Vegas, New York and Sydney, Australia. The population of Brunswick, Maine, recorded in the 2010 census was 20,278.
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Tao in Brunswick, Maine [Photo: Brunswick Maine Daily]