Time Warner loses legal battle over "Friends" café

The Federal Court has decided that a Geneva bistro owner can keep on using the name "Central Perk" for his establishment. The American media giant, Time Warner, sued Louis Perdrizat for using the name of the bar in its hit television series "Friends".

This content was published on April 30, 2001 - 13:24

Time Warner originally set its lawyers upon Perdrizat after discovering he had already registered the name in some 20 countries. The media company had failed to protect its trademark and only acted after discovering that Perdrizat had used the name for his bistro.

Time Warner accused him of unfair competition, copyright violation and of copying and profiting from the name without making any creative effort.

Perdrizat opened his bistro in February 2000, and Time Warner filed its suit last November, asking a local court to temporarily prevent Pedrizat from using the name for his establishment and its website.

The judge rejected the media company's injunction request, saying there was no competition since the two sides were operating in different economic domains.

Time Warner then appealed to Federal Court in Lausanne, which threw out the case. Confirming the original decision, the judges said Time Warner had failed to show that it wished to use the name in the restaurant business and therefore Pedrizat was not competing with the media company.

The court added that since Pedrizat registered the name in 1998, when it was not widely known in Switzerland, Time Warner did not have any pre-emptive rights to the trademark.

The media heavyweight is not about to give up the fight, though. The company's lawyers believe they can still get a permanent ban in Switzerland.

They also intend to fight Pedrizat's international registration of the name. For his part, the bistro owner says he just wants to develop his "Central Perk" franchise concept.

He says the idea has generated a lot of interest, but because of the ongoing court cases, everything has been put on hold.

swissinfo with agencies

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