BANGOR, Maine — A legal battle is forming over who holds the rights to market what arguably was Bangor’s most beloved sandwich for nearly 80 years.
When the Coffee Pot, a landmark Bangor business on State Street, served its last sandwich on Dec. 31, 2009, it left behind a lunch void that many scrambled to fill — a signature namesake sandwich made with ham or salami, onions, cheese and vegetables.
The business had operated for nearly 80 years. The closure allowed Skip Rist, who worked in the shop for nearly six decades, to finally retire at age 72.
In a 10-count civil complaint filed last month in U.S. District Court, the owners of Coffee Pot Cafe LLC allege that The Legacy Sandwich LLC infringed on its trademark names for its sandwiches and that it engaged in deceptive trade practices.
The Coffee Pot Cafe is asking the court to award it any profits that Legacy Sandwich derived from several similarly named sandwiches, as well as monetary damages and legal fees.
In its complaint, the Coffee Pot Cafe asserts that it owns several registered trademarks, namely “Deluxe” “Superdeluxe” and “Coffee Pot,” the names it has given to sandwiches it has been selling since it opened in mid-April of 2010.
The owners of both shops employ former Coffee Pot sandwich makers and both have claimed to have Rist’s blessing.
On Tuesday morning, Rist said he does not support the Coffee Pot Cafe. He said he has “nothing against” the Legacy Sandwich Shop.
The complaint alleges that Legacy Sandwich began using nearly identical names — “Legacy Deluxe Sandwich,” “State Street Super Deluxe Ham and Salami Sandwich,” “State Street Super Deluxe Ham Sandwich” and “State Street Super Deluxe Salami Sandwich” — for its own creations when it opened next door to the original Coffee Pot location shortly after the Coffee Pot Cafe made its debut.
The Coffee Pot Cafe also claimed that Legacy Sandwich sold those sandwiches to other sandwich shops on a wholesale basis.
The lawsuit says that the Coffee Pot Cafe put Legacy Sandwich on notice about the alleged trademark infringements in the spring of 2010 and demanded that Legacy cease and desist from the activity.
“Legacy refused to comply and continues to willingly infringe, and has expanded its infringement by abetting third parties to infringe Coffee Pot’s registered trademarks,” the complaint states.
The Coffee Pot Cafe alleges that this has “caused a likelihood of confusion or of misunderstanding” as to the source of Legacy Sandwich sandwiches and that the similarity of its sandwiches’ names to those used by the Coffee Pot Cafe has led some people to believe that there is an affiliation or association.
The Coffee Pot Cafe further alleges that in using the trademark names, Legacy Sandwich “has passed off its goods as those of the Coffee Pot.”
Bangor lawyer Anthony Pellegrini is representing Coffee Pot Cafe LLC, while The Legacy Sandwich LLC is represented by lawyer Sean Sweeney of Portland in the matter.
Both lawyers declined to comment on the case Monday, as did Bruce Guimond, owner of The Legacy Sandwich Shop.
Correction: An early version of this story requires clarification. Although the owners of the Coffee Pot Cafe and The Legacy Sandwich Shop both have claimed to have the blessing of Skip Rist, Rist does not support the Coffee Pot Cafe.