Zuma London wins High Court name battle against pet food company

(Photos: Zuma London / Dine In With Zuma)

Zuma, the London restaurant opened in 2002 by chef Rainer Becker, has won its court case against a pet food company using the Zuma name.

Becker appeared at the High Court to defend his restaurant’s name on behalf of its parent company Azumi Ltd, arguing that the Zuma’s Choice Pet Products Ltd company clashed with the high-end dining offer, and could lead people to think there was a link between the pet food, and its Japanese-inspired menu.

This was especially true, the restaurant argued, thanks to the pet food company’s use of the words ‘dine’ when referring to its dog products, and its website address, which is ‘www.dineinwithzuma.com’.

Zuma’s Choice Pet Products was set up in 2014 by Kingston-based entrepreneur Zoe Vanderbilt, who denied that the name would cause confusion with the restaurant, and said ‘Zuma’ was in reference to her own Japanese Akita/German shepherd cross dog. The company offered “luxury” dog food products, such as slow-braised pork, cheesy mash, chicken and lentils.

Judge Melissa Clarke ruled that Vanderbilt could keep the dog food name, but must stop using the “dine with” website address, and could not use “Zuma” in the brand. She also agreed with Becker that using the name Zuma for dog food risked adversely affecting the image or reputation of the restaurant.

Vanderbilt says: "I was very upset when I saw the judgment...Would people really think, as the judge states, that because my dog, Zuma, is smartly dressed in a bow-tie for a picture and the names of the meals are, for instance, 'cottage pie with cheesy mash', that the average consumer is likely to make a link between my products and the services of a niche and very expensive Japanese Restaurant in London? This is a very frustrating time for me and my company and I am still considering my options in an attempt to get justice."  

Vanderbilt has already launched an appeal in the Court of Appeal.

BigHospitality has also contacted Zuma London for comment.

Zuma London is well-known for its high-end Japanese izakaya-influenced menus, with options such as sushi, sashimi, and robata-grilled fish and meat.

The Zuma group also operates 11 sites globally, including New York, Miami, Istanbul, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Abu Dhabi, and Rome.

The restaurant brands Roka and Shochu are also owned by the group.

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