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Nightclub Coils to Strike in Trademark Infringement Suits

The Viper Room is taking a nasty bite out of its namesake rivals.


The Sunset Strip nightclub, made famous after actor River Phoenix died of a drug overdose there more than a decade ago, has launched the first of several trademark infringement suits against other nightclubs using the storied name.


The first suit, filed this month in U.S. District Court in Oregon, notes that a restaurant and club that opened last year in Portland goes by the name “The Viper Room,” which the local venue claims to have registered as a trademark in 1995. The Viper Room in Oregon also operates the Web site www.viperroompdx.com.


“It’s just the beginning of us enforcing our trademark,” said Darin Feinstein, managing member of Black Square Pants LLC, which purchased the Viper Room two years ago from actor Johnny Depp. “There are a few other places in the U.S. operating as the Viper Room and we intend to put a stop to that.”


Mike Pifher, owner of the Viper Room in Oregon, said most people have never heard of the namesake nightspot on Sunset Boulevard. “It’s kind of ridiculous,” he said of the suit. “I could name this Mike’s Bar and have the same amount of business.”


But he said he would change the name.


Feinstein, who knows of at least one nightspot in Boston called the Viper Room, said he intends to file suit against any others as well. He could not say how much in damages he is seeking in the suit against the Viper Room in Oregon but noted that it could be in the “millions of dollars.” “Every dollar they make is the result of using our name,” he said. “It could be hefty.”

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