Talking Points

Cooking up legal trouble on Milk Street

Marc Epstein filed a trademark suit against Christopher Kimball (above)’s business, CPK Media, a year ago in Boston federal court.

Lane Turner/Globe Staff/File 2017

Marc Epstein filed a trademark suit against Christopher Kimball (above)’s business, CPK Media, a year ago in Boston federal court.

Marc Epstein is finally getting his showdown in court.

The Milk Street Cafe founder never wanted to be in a trial facing off against celebrity chef Christopher Kimball. Epstein had been surprised to learn Kimball was about to open a nearby food business in downtown Boston under the name Milk Street Kitchen.

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Kimball, the bow-tied chef known for his work with America’s Test Kitchen, launched a media company — not another restaurant or catering operation. But Epstein still worried about the potential for confusion. He urged Kimball last year not to use the name.

Kimball dropped the “Kitchen.” That wasn’t enough for Epstein, who is particularly concerned his business will be overshadowed by Kimball’s in online searches. So Epstein filed a trademark suit against Kimball’s business, CPK Media, a year ago in Boston federal court.

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The trial began this week. Epstein’s lawyer argued that there’s been significant public confusion about the two businesses, while Kimball’s attorney stated that a business can’t lay exclusive claim to a street that predates the American Revolution, according to legal news site Law360. In the end, it will be up to a federal judge to decide.

This could be a prelude to a much bigger court battle for Kimball. His former employer, ATK, sued him in state court last fall, alleging the chef was improperly ripping off ATK’s concepts for his new venture.

Starting a new business is rarely easy. But getting stuck in two legal fights at the outset has to be an unwelcome additional challenge.

Jon Chesto can be reached at jon.chesto@globe.com and follow him on Twitter @jonchesto.
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