Buffett legal threat
is no paradise

FREDERICK, Md. >> Paradise isn't lost but the cheeseburgers are gone.

Lawyers for singer Jimmy Buffett gave a tiny roadside grill called Cheeseburgers 'n Paradise a choice: change the name or face a trademark-violation lawsuit.

So, owner Frenis Hoffman renamed the place Beef 'n Buns 'n Paradise this week, at least the second restaurant in two months to change its moniker under pressure from Buffett's lawyers.

"I'm feeling like a guppy in a tankful of sharks," Hoffman told the Frederick News-Post for a story published yesterday.

Lawyers for the famously laid-back singer accused the Hoffmans of using the name to ride on the coattails of Buffett's 1978 hit, "Cheeseburger in Paradise," Hoffman said.

"I don't even care for his music," Hoffman said. "I like his lifestyle but not his music."

Buffett's representatives in Los Angeles did not immediately return calls.

Hoffman and his wife, Faye, opened their sandwich shop 10 years ago. In August 2002, Buffett launched his own chain of Cheeseburger in Paradise restaurants.

He had already begun salting the country with his Margaritaville Cafes, which prompted a trademark dispute with a Hockessin, Del., restaurateur in February. Mark Chew changed the name of the outdoor bar at his restaurant, Samantha's, from Margaritaville Patio to Samantha's Patio after Buffett filed a lawsuit claiming the old name violated the trademark on Buffett-connected properties in Jamaica, Mexico, Las Vegas, New Orleans and Key West and Orlando, Fla.

Chew estimated it would cost him $12,000 to change the wording of his menus, signs and advertising -- but he said he probably got about $20,000 worth of free publicity from the dispute.

There are two sets of Cheeseburger in Paradise restaurants -- one connected to Buffett and another with outlets in Hawaii, Mexico and Japan owned by a group that settled with Buffett after a four-year legal battle. That chain was started by Edna Bayliff and Laren Gardner in Lahaina, Maui, in 1989, before Buffett went into food service.


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