Peace has broken out between warring Cork and Dublin restaurateurs in what a judge in the Circuit Civil Court described as “a serious bunfight” and by no means just a storm in a local teacup over name calling.
Son of a Bun, which prepares and supplies vitals in and from its cookhouse at 29 MacCurtain Street in Cork travelled specifically to Dublin fully prepared for a noon face-down with rival South Dublin upstart café Son of the Bun.
Barrister Freddie Gilligan, addressing local judge Jacqueline Linnane on behalf of the Cork City cafe owners, made it clear to a hushed, masked and Covid-cleared courtroom that the very close similarity in restaurant titles had been causing confusion among the inhabitants in both localities.
The court heard that hungry critters for miles around Urbun Café Limited’s Son of the Bun restaurant and takeaway on Old Bray Road, Cabinteely, Dublin, had been mistakenly sending signals to Nalgec Limited’s Son of a Bun chefs in Cork for delivery of hot hamburgers over more than 100 miles.
Mr Gilligan, who appeared for Nalgec with Carrie McDermott of MDM Solicitors, South Mall, Cork, explained to the hearing that the two businesses were involved in a trademark and passing-off dispute and Sun of a Bun was seeking lawful restraints against Sun of the Bun using the name of Sun of the Bun or any such similar logo.
Counsel said Nalgec’s Sun of a Bun title and trademarked “Flippin Good Burgers” had been registered in 2015 and the words Sun of a Bun set in a logo resembling the shape of a hamburger. The restaurant had traded in MacCurtain Street, Cork, since May 2015.
Mr Gilligan told Judge Linnane that Sun of a Bun had a loyal following in and beyond Cork as far as Dublin and had 6,300 followers on Instagram, 18,600 on Facebook and more than 2,000 on Twitter. Over the past five years Sun of a Bun had built up a reputation for excellent hamburgers and associated foods and drinks.
He said that between May and June 2020 the Cork-based Sun of a Bun had received a number of pre-paid orders for hamburgers for collection. Having been prepared they had never been collected and customers had demanded refunds. An investigation revealed that those who had placed the orders believed they had been dealing with Son of the Bun in South Dublin.
Mr Gilligan said the defendant’s on-line promotions, so very similar to those of the plaintiff company, had caused confusion and suggested there was an association between the two companies.
He said MDM Solicitors had written to Urbun Limited asking them to stop using the Son of the Bun logo and to cease operating a copycat business in Dublin. MDM’s letters had been met with replies such as “this is a storm in a local teacup” and inviting the Cork company owners to join the Dublin outfit “in a cuppa.”
Judge Linnane said she considered the defendant’s reply to be sarcastic and certainly not a storm in a local teacup. The defendant’s attitude had been reflective of the manner in which the defendants had failed to engage and which had led to the issuing of legal proceedings, the wastage of court time and the cause of unnecessary costs.
Mr Gilligan said there had been talks earlier this week which had led to Urbun Limited agreeing to give sworn undertakings to the court. Undertakings were given to remove all signage, hoarding and images on social media and all online material under the style and title of Son of the Bun.
Under a “full and final settlement” Son of the Bun agreed to re-direct any inquiries over the next four weeks to Son of a Bun which accepted it would highlight on its order page that it was a local Cork-based restaurant. Urbun Limited agreed to meet the legal costs of the proceedings.
Judge Linnane said that if costs were not met there would be consequences for the defendant and adjourned the proceedings generally with liberty to re-enter them if necessary.