Hotel owner Emma in San Antonio sues developer over name of Austin apartment project

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The partnership behind the Emma Hotel in San Antonio doesn’t like that an Austin developer has dubbed a new apartment project there “The Emma”.

Thus, Rio Perla Properties, owner of the Pearl complex which houses the Emma Hotel, has filed a trademark infringement complaint for Cumby Group of Austin to withdraw the name.

Rio Perla said in a federal lawsuit in San Antonio filed this week that due to Cumby Group’s use of The Emma, ​​there is a “likelihood of confusion” between the hotel and the apartment project.

“The bad faith and intentional, willful and malicious behavior of Cumby Group is at least evidenced by the fact that Cumby Group uses ‘Emma’ in a black and gold color scheme and capital letters, just like the use of EMMA by Rio Perla, ”says the San Antonio partnership in its complaint.

Emma even has 146 apartments, the exact number of rooms in the hotel, adds Rio Perla.

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The two buildings, however, are namesakes of two different women.

Cumby Group officials did not comment immediately on Wednesday.

The Emma Hotel opened in 2015 in the former brewery of the former Pearl Brewery. Less than a month after the hotel debuted, Rio Perla filed an application with the US Patent and Trademark Office to register the name Emma.

The mark was registered in 2017 under “Class 43”, which covers hotel services and the provision of facilities for banquets, receptions and meetings. The Patent and Trademark Office divides trademarks into 45 different categories of goods and services.

On September 1, almost three weeks before filing a complaint, Rio Perla filed a trademark application for Emma in connection with the rental of apartments and those located in hotel complexes, which fall under “class 36” . A copy of the claim was filed with the lawsuit.

Rio Perla claims that it has “common law rights” to the Emma brand due to its use of the brand for “hotel and residential services” since its opening.

Cumby Group violates these rights by using Emma to promote “residential services substantially similar to the hotel and residential services of Rio Perla”, adds the latter.

The Emma Hotel is the only hotel in San Antonio to have received the AAA’s Five Diamond designation, a coveted hospitality industry award that has only been given to one other hotel in Texas. The hotel received this distinction in 2018.

The Emma Hotel is named after Emma Koehler, the wife of beer magnate Otto Koehler, one of the founders of the Pearl Brewery. After being shot in 1914, Emma Koehler took over the brewery and guided it through Prohibition to one of its most successful times. She died in 1943.

Emma in Austin, slated to debut in the spring, is named after aviation pioneer Emma Browning, according to the Cumby Group website.

She and her husband managed Browning’s air services at the Robert Mueller Municipal Airport in Austin. “During the Great Depression, Emma was a piggyback pilot for her husband, who made a living doing passenger jumps, air shows, parachute jumps and stick landings,” the website adds. She was inducted into the Texas Aviation Hall of Fame in 2005, three years after her death.

This is not the first time that Rio Perla, a subsidiary of the developer of Pearl Silver Ventures, has brought a trademark infringement action.

In 2017, Rio Perla struck a deal that prevented developer Terramark Urban Homes from calling a Government Hill townhouse project “Pearl District Lofts”.

The settlement came after Terramark was ordered by the court to stop using the name and destroy all marketing materials promoting the project.

In 2016, Rio Perla sued to prevent San Antonio Brewing Co., which was opening a microbrewery and pub in Southtown, from using the name to sell its foam.

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Rio Perla argued that the microbrewer’s name was confusingly similar to that of its San Antonio Brewing Association.

In his lawsuit, Rio Perla said he used the name of the San Antonio Brewing Association in connection with the “sale of its beer products and its wares sold in restaurants” at a former brewery bearing “SAN ANTONIO BREW’G ASS’N “signage near the top of the exterior of the building. The names San Antonio Brewing Association and San Antonio Brewing Co. date back to the late 1800s.

About two months after the complaint was filed, San Antonio Brewing Co. changed its name to Künstler Brewing Co. as part of a settlement.

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