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Jilted Bozo's Owners Go After Mr. Ed's Oyster Bar For Trademark Infringement

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A Mandeville couple who own Bozo's trademark are suing Mr. Ed's for infringement.

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A Mandeville couple, Mark Fayard and Susan Martisen, purchased Metairie oyster icon Bozo's and its trademarks in 2008 from elderly Chris "Bozo" Vodanovich, but after years of allegedly paying late rent on the property, the Vodanovich family successfully ousted them from the building in 2013 and the restaurant was no more.  That's when restaurateur Ed McIntyre swooped in and bought the actual property at 3117 21st St., revamping the restaurant and resurrecting beloved menu items and the legendary oyster bar, though under the Mr. Ed's Oyster Bar & Fish House name. McIntyre had the blessings of Chris Bozo Vodanovich—a real passing of the reigns— who often visited Mr. Ed's until he passed away at age 86 in late 2014. Such are the makings of a new lawsuit, The Advocate reports this week.

Apparently Fayard and Martisen, who still own the rights to Bozo's and its trademarks, are seeking damages against Mr. Ed's Oyster Bar & Fish House for using menu item names and other marketing materials belonging to Bozo's:

They sent a cease-and-desist letter demanding that the restaurant stop saying it's been "Shucking Here Since 1979" or calling itself the "Oldest Standup Oyster Bar in Metairie." The letter also demanded that Mr. Ed's stop offering dishes with "Mr. Chris" in their names.

The duo are now suing Mr. Ed's for allegedly not complying with the cease and desist, though the restaurant has since stopped describing itself as having the 'oldest standup oyster bar in Metairie.'  As for the menu items, McIntyre argues that the two dishes known as "Mr. Chris Gumbo chicken and andouille gumbo" and "Mr. Chris homemade hamburger steak" are both an "homage to a man he called a friend for four decades" and not trademark infringement.

It's also worth nothing that Fayard and Martisen also attempted to sue the Vodonavich's company, and family— including Bozo's wife and late sister— for selling the building to McIntyre in 2013, alleging that they were preemptively evicted so they wouldn't get first dibs on purchasing the building themselves. A judge released the family estates from the lawsuit, and it's been an inactive case since 2013, which is when the duo "turned their attention" to Mr. Ed's.

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