Jury awards $10,000 damages in Brunswick ‘Inn’ naming rights suit

The Inn at Brunswick Station, which went into business in 2011, was sued by a nearby establishment called The Brunswick Inn over its use of a similar name.
Christopher Cousins | BDN
The Inn at Brunswick Station, which went into business in 2011, was sued by a nearby establishment called The Brunswick Inn over its use of a similar name. Buy Photo
Posted Dec. 19, 2013, at 4:03 p.m.
Last modified Dec. 20, 2013, at 6:07 a.m.
The Brunswick Inn, which has used that name since 2009, sued a newer establishment in downtown Brunswick, the Inn at Brunswick Station, over its use of a similar name.
Christopher Cousins | BDN
The Brunswick Inn, which has used that name since 2009, sued a newer establishment in downtown Brunswick, the Inn at Brunswick Station, over its use of a similar name. Buy Photo

BRUNSWICK, Maine — A jury on Wednesday awarded The Brunswick Inn owner Eileen Horner $10,000 after determining that the Inn at Brunswick Station’s name infringed on The Brunswick Inn’s trademark.

But whether or not The Inn at Brunswick Station must change its name will be determined by U.S. District Court Justice Nancy Torresen in January.

In 2012, Horner, owner of The Brunswick Inn, sued The Inn at Brunswick Station, claiming that since it opened in June 2011, guests have confused The Inn at Brunswick Station with the Brunswick Inn, costing her reservations and money.

Following a trial that began on Monday, a jury on Wednesday said The Brunswick Inn had “acquired distinctiveness” before the Inn at Brunswick Station began using that name. However, the jury determined that J. HIlary Rockett, owner of the Inn at Brunswick Station, did not willfully infringe on the Brunswick Inn’s trademark.

Horner sued for damages totalling $143,613, but the jury awarded $10,000, according to court documents.

An inn has operated at the Park Street location of the Brunswick Inn since 1984, and since 2007 the name has contained the words The Brunswick Inn, according to a trial brief filed by Horner’s attorney, James Goggin of Verrill Dana in Portland. Horner purchased the 14-room inn in 2009.

In June 2011, JHR Development, owned by J. Hilary Rockett of Marblehead, Mass., and the developer of the adjacent Brunswick Station shops and train station, opened the 52-room Inn at Brunswick Station at the corner of Noble and Maine streets.

Throughout years of planning for Maine Street Station, Rockett had referred to the development as Maine Street Station, and to the inn as The Inn at Maine Street Station, but those names changed when the inn and the train station opened.

Among exhibits presented by Horner’s attorney was a Brunswick Fire Department incident report from July 27, 2011, detailing a response to a cooking fire at the Inn at Brunswick Station. Due to an error, the fire department first mistakenly responded to the Brunswick Inn.

According to court documents, both attorneys must file briefs by Dec. 31 before a judge decides whether the Inn at Brunswick Station must change its name.

Goggin wrote in an email Thursday to the Bangor Daily News that based on the factual finding made by the jury, “The appropriate relief here is for an injunction” that would require the Inn at Brunswick Station to change its name.

Of the damages awarded, Goggin said, “The Brunswick Inn is excited to have this verdict and is relieved that the confusion between the two establishments will soon end.”

But Frank Gaeta of the Boston law firm Rich May, representing Rockett, told the BDN on Thursday that he would file a brief asking the court not to force JHR Development to change the inn’s name.

“We’re pleased that a jury agreed that the Inn at Brunswick Station had no intention to infringe on the Brunswick Inn’s name,” Gaeta said. “The jury expressly found that the infringement was not willful. And we’re pleased that the jury concluded that such a small amount should be awarded in compensation … but we’re disappointed that the jury found that the name of the Inn at Brunswick Station infringes on the Brunswick Inn. We are evaluating our options with respect to that finding.”

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