The courtroom battle of the culinary Chows is finally over. The U.S. District Court in Miami found Philippe Chow Restaurants and CEO Stratis Morfogen guilty of false advertising and unfair competition by deceptive conduct.
However, both Chows are claiming victory. Anthony Accetta, lawyer for Philippe Chow, notes that Michael Chow of Mr. Chow sued for over 16 counts, including trademark infringement, unfair and deceptive trade practices, and misappropriation of trade secrets, but only won one of them.
The original Chow told L.A. Times, “Philippe has aggressively and shamelessly worked to confuse people into thinking our restaurants are connected, even to the point of referring to himself as 'Mr. Chow.'"
Philippe's legal name was Chak Yam Chau. When the first Philippe Chow Restaurant opened, he changed his name to Philippe Chow Chau.
Mr. Chow has locations in London, Beverly Hills, New York, Las Vegas and Miami Beach. And in 2008 when Philippe Chow opened a location in Miami Beach's Gansevoort Hotel, less than half a mile from Mr. Chow's at the W Hotel, the original Chow decided to file a lawsuit, according the Miami Herald.
Philippe Chow has since moved to another location on Ocean Drive.
The U.S. District Court considered paid online "sponsor links" as evidence of false advertising, because they falsely showed Mr. Chow’s New York restaurant as located at the actual address of the Philippe Chow Restaurant. The links also stated that Philippe Chau was the "architect of Mr. Chow’s menu,” even though he was never head chef, executive chef or first or second wok at Mr. Chow's.
The court also found false advertising proof in that Morfogen directed Philippe Chow employees to submit positive reviews of their restaurant online without disclosing their employment. Mr. Chow will receive $1 million in damages as outlined by the jury's decision.
Mr. Chow's attorney Bertram Fields commented, "We view this judgment as a complete victory and are satisfied that the jury sent a clear message to Morfogen and Philippe Chow Restaurants about their false advertising and misconduct. This case was not about the money, and the jury understood that despite all that he has endured, Michael Chow has and will continue to be highly successful.
Meanwhile co-counsel for Philippe Chow Vincent Ancona notes, “They tried to take Philippe Chow’s name, they tried to take his food, they tried to take his livelihood. You know what they got? Nothing. We’ll see Michael Chow in Zagat next year – may the best chef win.”
This story has been updated to reflect that Philippe Chow was cleared on other accusations in the case.