Did Murphy’s Restaurant in Virginia-Highland force Midtown’s piano bar into last minute name change?

Caleb J. SpivakMiscellaneous, restaurants15 Comments

Mirffee's Den ~ What Now Atlanta

Why else would ‘Mirffee’s Den’ pick random letters to try and re-spell its name in the ugliest way possible?

Just days before its opening Wednesday, Mirffee’s Den (originally spelled “Murphy’s”), has been busy switching signs, menus, receipt letterhead, etc., to reflect its recently changed name.

The soon-to-open “sixties-style piano” bar, at 794 Juniper Street (formerly Avra Greek Tavern), still has two signs outside the space, one where its name is spelled, “Murphy’s” and the other, spelled, “Mirffee’s.”

On a trip to the restaurant Monday, an employee told What Now Atlanta, the “owner of Murphy’s Restaurant in Virginia-Highland was not happy with the restaurant’s name.”

Sounds like a potential trademark infringement case and quite possibly the only excuse for a name so hideous it hurts to look at.


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Caleb J. SpivakDid Murphy’s Restaurant in Virginia-Highland force Midtown’s piano bar into last minute name change?

15 Comments on “Did Murphy’s Restaurant in Virginia-Highland force Midtown’s piano bar into last minute name change?”

  1. Urbanist

    Probably not a good way to start your business – by bowing out to other local competitors. ETD? 12 months, maybe?

  2. AJ

    Instead of focusing on a name, why not focus on the content? Will it be successful? I hope so. Have I been yet? No. So I won’t predict an ETD. Have you been there Urbanist?

  3. Sandy

    Hey let’s wish these guys luck – this corner has been cursed for over a decade now – be nice to have something new and different in there. As far as the name thing – such an non-issue.
    Kuddos to them for making light of someone else’s ego.

  4. Johnny Simmons

    I was there this weekend. It was doing good business – restaurant upstairs, nobody outside, lots of people at the bar and around the piano. Good times, but definitely Midtown’s newest ultra gay-friendly bar, i.e. a gay bar. I am positive they would not want to limit themselves, but come on, tell me a better way to attract a bunch of queens than to have a lady playing Billy Joel, Dolly Parton, musical scores, and other music you can sing along to? Hehe

    I think I had two drinks for $16.50, plus bar tip, plus tip for piano player. It’s definitely a unique experience, though. Reminds me of places…not in Atlanta. Parking is caddy corner and across from Straits. Blakes is 5 blocks down…hehe

  5. Johnny Simmons

    On another note…it sure was “gay” of “Murphy’s” to cramp on Murphy’s Den, ahem Mirfee’s Den like that. Makes me not really like Murphy’s restaurant. I can understand how they thought that people would end up shorting Murphy’s Den to just Murphy’s, but I don’t see how that translates into lost business for either. One’s a piano bar for the gays and girls and one is a Concentrics Group Irish restaurant.

  6. Ryan Smith

    I disagree. That is trademark infringement clearly. The owner should have been more smart and picked a different name in the first place. If anything this makes me not like Mirfee’s den.

  7. Johnny Simmons

    Uh, Murphy is a really common name. Legally it may be trademarked in the area for the sole use of that restaurant in the Highlands. That is not to say they are going a little overboard by not allowing a piano bar to use it. Someone explain to me regarding trademark law, that a name can be reserved for the exclusive use of one place or it can be exclusive to one place in one category or area.

    Ex – couldn’t Murphy’s have said…ok no Murphy’s within a 3 or 5 mile radius…say within Atlanta city limits? That would be akin to a radius restriction in leasing terms.

    couldn’t Murphy’s have also said no Irish restaurants or restaurants in general with the name Murphy’s, but if you want to open up a separate piano bar, no problem?

    I mean I don’t know, but I do know Murphy is a common name, so trademarking something so commonly used seems a little restricting and overbearing. Besides…the two won’t compete at all, and having one more popular Murphy’s could be good for both. Case in point:

    Jack: Hey you want to go to Murphy’s tonight?

    Jill: Which one, Highlands or Murphy’s Den?

    Jack: Murphy’s Den, but I forgot about Murphy’s in the Highlands, we should check it out soon!

  8. Johnny

    Went here last night for its opening party. It was very fun, mixed crowd and good food. They are definitely working out some kinks, but overall had a great experience. Very glad to have a piano bar in the city (regardless of the name) :-)

  9. JAKERyan

    You are either all retarded or not from Atlanta, Murphys in Va. Hi. Is not an Irish Restaurant….leave the basement and explore instead of talking $hit….nerds.

  10. Paul Stieffel

    Caleb, it seems like some serious intimidation here. I’m not a lawyer, however I had various sales and marketing roles including product manager with Georgia Pacific for over 10 years. You need a unique name/logo within a specific goods and services classification. We were hammered to by legal to come up with names for items that could be trademarked. Furthermore anyone can go on the united states patent and trademark office to check if a trademark exists. http://tess2.uspto.gov/bin/gate.exe?f=searchss&state=4005:762jub.1.1 look up Carrabba’s and you will find the casual restaurant listed. Look up Murphy’s and you will not find Murphy’s restaurant in atlanta. Tom Murphy has a right to be pissed for someone coming in and causing confusion whether or not it was done as a ploy by the piano bar to create some pseudo awareness for his new venture. However I firmly believe he has absolutely no legal recourse against the piano bar. Murphy’s is a great restaurant, but if there is some bullying going on here it needs to be called out..

  11. Paul Stieffel

    PS Mirffee’s Den can be registered…so in the long run although it may be hard for people to look that up because of its spelling it is the right thing to do if they have expansion/franchising vision. It looks like they will keep the domain http://www.murphysden.com with a redirect so that will help.

  12. IP Often

    The “test” for trademark infringement is possible confusion of the public. As an example, one might tell a friend living outside of midtown/VaHi to check out nearby Murphy’s for dinner while they’re in town for a concert at Piedmont Park. If the friend ends up instead at Murphy’s Den because it is also nearby and similarly named, it could be argued that the Den, in this example, has benefited from confusion of the public. I fear that it could also be argued that Mirfee’s Den sounds too similar to Murphy’s and may still cause confusion. One could make arguments against as well (anticipate idiotic comment below), but that is the basic test.

  13. Valora

    IF there was a legal issue, the solution was NOT to change the name to MIrffee’s for god’s sake. Just change it to Pete’s Den or O’hara’s Den or something else. Unless the owners of the Den are named Murphy themselves and are attached to the name for that reason, this spelling change is DUMB.

  14. PE

    Had a great brunch meal that this past Saturday, January 7th. Egg Nog french toast – amazing, try the fried chicken eggs benedict, nice departure from the traditional benedict. Go hungry because portions are huge. Sat at the bar and had a great time talking to other neighhborhood folks. Looking forward to many more meals there.

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