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But a couple of months ago, Ward was visited by a woman who works with Stonebridge, the company that operates and owns the new Hilton Garden Inn, at 1400 Welton Street. She informed him that they were also planning a restaurant named Pi and were even going to use the pi sign in the logo. "She was being really nice about it initially," Ward says. "Then, within a week, they sent me a cease-and-desist letter from Brownstein." And that would be Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, the high-powered law firm representing Stonebridge.
"The facts are that we applied properly for a trademark registration a number of months ago," says Howard Pollack, an attorney with that firm. "I can't give you the exact number, but it was close to a year ago, well before anything else came out. We properly applied for a national trademark. That registration is pending and under way. We were the first ones to open up and use the name Pi."
But they may not be the last to use the name, because Ward contends that he beat Stonebridge to the punch with the trademark. "They know that we've been using it before them," Ward says. "That's what it comes down to. I have it registered with the Secretary of State and went that avenue. They registered it federally, which shouldn't make much of a difference, because there are a million Pi places out there — pizza places, actually — in the U.S. So our attorney thinks we have a good fight for it. But now they're just trying to use the big guns to scare us. It's going to cost us a crapload of money to fight it. They're not really too concerned about the money."
"The law on this stuff is fairly clear," Pollack counters. "It's not what everybody knows. It's not salacious, and a lot of times people don't understand how the law works in this area, but it's clear, and there are certain things you need to do in order to establish prior use. There are certain rights that come along with registering a trademark, which is why we did it."
Ward, whose attorney was served with papers two weeks ago, decided to have some fun with the situation, throwing a "Save Pi on Larimer" party last Thursday at Slim 7. The place was packed.
And he still plans to open his own Pi, at 1442 Larimer, in the next few weeks. "Until a court decides," he points out, "I told them that both of us can use the name, and then one of us will have to stop using it as a result of the legal judgment."
At first, Ward's Pi will primarily be a bar open Wednesdays through Saturdays; how often it serves pizza until 5 a.m. will depend on how well they do each night. And in a couple of months, the new club Below will share the basement space formerly occupied by the Champion Brewing Company. Ward describes the club as a "very sleek, sinful, dungeon-ous, gothic-type scene with really edgy decor." And he'll probably bring in some well-known out-of-town DJs, as Slim 7 has done in the past.
Club scout: A few doors from Slim 7, Le Rouge (1448 Market Street) has kicked off its LoDo's Bachelor 2007 contest, which runs Thursday nights through September. Guys can find application forms at www.lerouge.us; one lucky stud will take home a 42-inch plasma TV. And finally, the Ginn Mill (2041 Larimer), a Prohibition-themed bar that pays homage to historic Larimer Street will have its grand opening on Thursday, September 27, starting at 6 p.m.