Over the last 20 years, the average number of patent-related lawsuits has increased from 500 to over 3,000 annually. These lawsuits span countless topics, but the one on every New Yorker’s mind at the moment is the one Peter Gatien is pursuing to defend the once famous Limelight night club of New York City.
For countless New York club-goers in the 1980s and 1990s, the Limelight was what it was all about. If you wanted to be considered cool and trendy, that’s where you’d be.
Even since its closing in 2001, New Yorkers remain fascinated by its reputation and the draw it had on celebrities and civilians alike.
Now, however, an attempt to bring back the notorious club’s brand has sparked a trademark war between the original club owner, eye-patch-sporting Peter Gatien, and rivals who operate the Tao Group club chain and Dream hotels.
The Limelight opened in 1983 on the site of a deconsecrated Episcopal church, which immediately gave the club a dark and mysterious air.
Andy Warhol hosted parties there, and the club saw the faces of celebrities from all walks of life, from Prince to Pearl Jam.
It certainly earned a reputation as a dark and hip underground hub. It grew to such magnitude that Gatien himself was subsequently referred to as “the King of Clubs.”
However, since its closing in 2001, the abandoned church has seen various businesses come and go.
Currently, an upscale Chinese restaurant is situated in the old building. Owner Stratis Morfogen envisions a “vibe dining” experience for his customers in the grandiose venue.
“I wanted really cool music. I wanted lyrics. I don’t like these other places that call it vibe dining, where it’s just a drumbeat and techno music,” he said.
This is only the most recent of the many businesses that have come and gone from the location. Most — including another nightclub, an urban mall, and several restaurants — have been fleeting and failed in a short amount of time.
The mall, for instance, called “Limelight Marketplace,” opened to great fanfare, but only lasted about a year before downsizing into a series of smaller shops that continue to do business.
Despite the failed attempts at reviving the Limelight brand in the church itself, a separate entity wants to use the name now.
Gatien, however, isn’t having it. Now 65, he alleged in a lawsuit filed earlier this month that, over his objections, the Tao Group plans to open a Limelight nightclub in a Dream hotel in Los Angeles.
“The defendants’ decision to use Peter Gatien’s brand is inexplicable and obviously in bad faith given their knowledge of Peter’s ownership of the legendary Limelight brand,” Gatien’s attorney, Bill Carmody of the New York office of the Susman Godfrey law firm, said.
Carmody says that his client’s failure to renew the trademark registration, while a complicating factor, doesn’t ultimately matter where the law is concerned.