The United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida issued a judgement on June 21, 2018, in favor of RockStar Hotels and rejecting claims of trademark infringement in a suit brought by Hard Rock Hotels. This allows the hotel company to continue using the RockStar Hotels name.
In October 2017 Hard Rock Cafe Inc., which oversees the Hard Rock Hotels brand, sued RockStar Hotels for trademark infringement and the use of the name “RockStar.”
On June 21, 2018, the court said that the term “rock star” has more than one meaning in the English language, only one of which relates to music, and that the services and experiences offered by each hotel group are more than sufficiently different to avoid creating confusion for consumers.
“This is a great victory for the independent entrepreneur facing intimidation by Goliath,” said Robert Santucci, president of RockStar Hotels.
“We have a notably distinct offering aimed at discerning travelers, and we are very appreciative of the court’s decisive recognition that in no way do we infringe on the Hard Rock’s identity or offerings," he added.
Santucci launched RockStar Hotels in January 2017 with independent luxury hotel properties across Europe, Asia and the U.S. Launched with 40 hotels in seven countries, RockStar Hotels launched with 40 hotels in seven countries and the portfolio has grown to include approximately 140 properties.
Santucci, a hospitality veteran of brands including Marriott and Starwood, testified that the RockStar Hotels concept is not based on music, but rather it is meant to have guests feel they are treated like a celebrity. Additionally, the court pointed out that the hotel experience a customer seeks from Hard Rock Hotels is vastly different from the one a customer seeks from RockStar Hotels.
On Friday, June 22, 2018, Hard Rock Cafe Inc. filed a motion at the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida to dismiss its claim against RockStar Hotels. According to the motion, Hard Rock Café and RockStar Hotels conducted mediation in May 2018 and engaged in settlement negotiations.
The parties and mediator set a deadline of July 1, 2018, to continue mediated negotiations.