Conde Nast’s court threat to local eatery

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The heavyweight publisher of Britain’s high-society Tatler magazine is threatening court action against a small Queenstown business bearing the same name. 

The Conde Nast Publications Ltd is demanding Tatler Restaurant owner Mark Jessop change his business name and website address. 

It’s also demanding Jessop remove his magazine-style menu entitled Tatler Restaurant & Bar, and hand over profits from selling copies of it. 

Jessop has also learnt Conde Nast applied to the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand to trademark the Tatler name in the ‘restaurant’ category. 

The restaurateur is adamant he’s keeping his trading and domain names, and company name Tatler Restaurant Ltd. 

“No one wants to lose the name of their business,” Jessop says.

Jessop bought The Mall restaurant Tatler in 2004, four years after the name was coined by a previous owner Kathryn Wills. 

Conde Nast’s Tatler magazine, which focuses on the lifestyles of the British upper class, has been around in various guises since 1709. 

In letters to the restaurateur, the publisher alleges Jessop is infringing the Trade Marks Act 2002 and breaching the Fair Trading Act by calling his restaurant ‘Tatler’. On May 16 the publisher threatened High Court proceedings if he didn’t meet its demands within the following two weeks. 

Mountain Scene this week asked Conde Nast’s Auckland-based lawyer Jenni Rutter for comment from her client.
Rutter replied: “Conde Nast does not comment on pending legal matters.” 

Jessop says he’s at a loss to understand Conde Nast’s concerns. 

“We’re not in the magazine business, we don’t want to be in the magazine business.” 

In its May 16 letter, Conde Nast revealed it had gone undercover and bought the Tatler restaurant ‘magazine’ on May 6 for $15. 

The publisher was “extremely concerned” to note that it was clearly a magazine, containing articles and advertising, and was obviously for sale. 

Jessop says he only put a cover price on it to stop customers pinching copies and has no record of anyone buying a copy last month. 

“We haven’t sold one in the last six months, as far as we know. We print about 150 every six months. 

“They’ve asked how much profit we make [on the magazine menu]. I say, ‘Well, we’ve made a loss of $4000 to $5000 a year, if you want to subsidise it’.” 

Jessop says he’s told Conde Nast he’ll remove the Tatler name from the cover of the next issue – and he’d hoped it might be enough to keep them happy. 

“I’m gobsmacked that they’ve come back and said, ‘Oh, no, we don’t want just that’. 

“It’s like they want to bend you over and bloody deal to you as well.” 

Jessop has no plan to change his business names. 

“We get a lot of group business because of it, and a lot of traffic comes to the website and then comes here,” he says. 

“I don’t know really what they want to achieve, to be honest.” 

Jessop says it costs him $1000 a day in rent, wages and insurance just to open his doors. 

“Then, to have this bloody thrown in your face … It’s like, ‘Go away, man, I’ve got more on my plate than this’,” Jessop says.