A Lehigh Acres man who owns the new The Rolling Stone Libation Co. Restaurant in downtown Lehigh Acres has found himself in something of a dilemma.
The business has rapidly made a name for itself, drawing the attention of both local food lovers and the long-established national magazine using a similar moniker.
Rolling Stone magazine wants the local eatery at 1175 Homestead Road in the Winn-Dixie Shopping Center to change its name or face a possible legal challenge.
Outside the restaurant is this sign using the letters RSLC, standing for Rolling Stone Libation Co. restaurant.
Bruce Keisling, who opened The Rolling Stone Libation Co. Restaurant on Aug. 15, said he did not choose the name because of the famous magazine - and he doesn't think the magazine has any right to make him change the name of his business.
"I don't even read the magazine. I have always liked the saying 'A rolling stone gathers no moss,' so that was the reason for the name selection."
The restaurant is unique inside with the display of art and prints, and other trinkets and collectibles on the walls, and he wanted his restaurant to be something different, the once building contractor said.
Keisling has lived in Lehigh since 2005 and said he grew up in Naples and Ohio. The small, intimate restaurant with an interesting menu is about 1500 square feet in size and can seat about 35. There are a few tables in the restaurant and a large bar at which beer and wine can be purchased. There is an old piano from the early 1900s and a sofa.
"I like the way we've decorated it and so do the customers who keep coming back. It's just a great place to come and enjoy yourself. We also have great entertainment," Keisling said.
A name card that he passes out has Keisling's name and phone number on one side, 239-940-6161 with the name "The Rolling Stone Libation Company." He said most people don't know the meaning of "libation," but it is an act or instance of drinking, often ceremoniously.
"It is an act of pouring a liquid as a sacrifice as to a deity such as wine it's in the dictionary," he said.
On the other side of the restaurant's name card are, in big letters, "RSLC" standing for Rolling Stone Libation Co. and, on a small sign outside the restaurant, the same letters as RSLC are used. Above the entrance, however, is where the Rolling Stone name is used.
Hence the name brohaha, and the letter from Rolling Stone counsel.
Keisling said he received the letter from Dana Rosen, who signed off as the general counsel with Rolling Stone, in September.
The letter cites the world-famous trademark in the name of his restaurant and registration for the mark in its distinctive design and logo typestyle.
"The famous Rolling Stone trademark has been used continuously and exclusively in connection with the magazine since its inception and, as a result of its 46 years of use, is immediately identified with the magazine and our company," the letter states.
"The name is infringing on the famous trademark owned, and registered by Rolling Stone. Our concern obviously is heightened by the fact that your infringing name is being used in connection with a rock and roll themed music-related restaurant - the same area in which we enjoy a long-established, esteemed reputation illustrating this overlap is the fact that we have operated various Rolling Stone restaurants in the United States and abroad. Such blatant copying constitutes clear infringement and dilution of our registered trademark. Your use of the trademark clearly identified with Rolling Stone magazine particularly for services related directly to music and entertainment creates the misleading impression that your restaurant is associated with or somehow endorsed by our magazine, which is not the case," Dana Rosen wrote on behalf of the magazine.
She wrote that the magazine is demanding the restaurant in Lehigh to immediately cease all use and distribution of the trademark Rolling Stone, including removing the name from the restaurant, social media sites (including Facebook) and all other materials including all promotional materials, signage, letterhead, business cards, menus, T-shirts and other items, and replacing the infringing name with a new name that does not infringe on "our valuable and protectable rights" and that Keisling provide the magazine with proof that the name has been changed, together with written confirmation that Keisling has ceased all use and distribution of the infringing name and agree to cease and desist from any adoption, use, and/or registration of any similarly infringing mark in the future.
In reaction to the demand, Keisling reiterates that he does not think Rolling Stone has the right to own the words.
"I have the name of Rolling Stone and added Libation Company to it and want to be known as RSLC as on our name cards," Keisling said.
"I have no intention to promote the magazine. I am not a reader of it, and have not even seen a copy of it for several years," he said.
"I still maintain that the old adage that a rolling stone gathers no moss and nobody owns those words," Keisling said.
"We're going to fight," he said. "Nobody likes a bully."
He said he has invested his life's savings in the new restaurant in a town that does not have enough nice restaurants.
He added that told her that Lehigh is a community with a lot of economic problems and that he had no idea of harming the magazine and didn't know how it could harm it in Lehigh.
Keisling said he has a five-year lease on the unit where his restaurant is, and that he doesn't know how it will end, but he doesn't feel that he has used words that someone else owns.
"I just don't," he said.
Keisling urges people to make a reservation on weekends or, if coming during the week, diners with a large party should also call first. The restaurant is dimly lit and there are lanterns and other interesting things throughout the restaurant.
Rolling Stone Libation Co. is open from Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to midnight. On Friday and Saturday nights, he may remain open to 1:30 to 2 a.m., depending on the crowd.