Seattle’s new hockey franchise is getting name-checked. On April 22, U District dive bar the Kraken Bar & Lounge filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against the NHL’s Seattle Kraken for $3.5 million. The suit (a copy of which was sent to Eater Seattle) claims that the team’s newly announced flagship restaurant, the Kraken Bar & Grill, “has already damaged The Kraken Bar by calling into question The Kraken Bar’s ability to maintain its Seattle, punk-rock, dive-bar image among existing patrons and music-promoters and portends certain doom for The Kraken Bar’s image going forward.”
Originally known as the Galway Arms, the Seattle Kraken Bar & Lounge has been a U District mainstay since 2011, when married couple Katherine and Daniel Colley took over the space to turn it into a live music destination for punk and metal fans. The lawsuit lists some of the bands that have come through the venue over the years, including Get Dead, Iron Chic, Bad Cop/Bad Cop, Spanish Love Songs, PEARS, Mike Herrera (MxPx), Noi!se, Brendan Kelly, and Hudson Falcons, and touts the positive reviews and press the bar has received throughout the owners’ tenure.
The lawsuit — first reported by the Seattle Times — contends that the new NHL team caused some issues for the bar starting last year, when the Kraken first announced its name to much buildup and hype. After the announcement, “the Kraken Bar observed new patrons visiting the bar in hockey-themed attire and suggesting that The Kraken Bar could or would become their new ‘hockey bar,’” states the court filing. “That The Kraken Bar would or should become a ‘hockey bar’ or a sports bar of any kind was anathema to The Kraken Bar and its regular patrons. The Kraken Bar’s regular patrons frequented the bar precisely because it was a dive-bar, associated with affordable food and drinks as well as cutting edge live music performances by well-known punk and metal bands.”
Though the venue did not take legal action when the team’s name became official last summer, the fact that the NHL Kraken would open its official restaurant in Northgate, three miles from the Kraken Bar, was apparently a bridge too far. In April, veteran Seattle restaurateur Mick McHugh — who owned the popular pub F.X McRory’s in Pioneer Square — shared details about the Kraken Bar & Grill, a 4,600 square foot restaurant that will overlook the rinks at the team’s training facility, with 17 TVs scattered throughout the main area and a concession area. It also plans to be open year-round for events, such as youth sports, when it debuts in the fall.
The new lawsuit alleges that this restaurant infringes on the U District bar’s trademark protection because those trademarks “are inherently distinctive of The Kraken Bar’s goods and services and because they were used by The Kraken Bar before the team announced its similar name in July 2020.” According to the filing, the use of the name Kraken in “bar and restaurant services, live entertainment services, and related merchandise such as apparel, including hats, shirts, hoodies, and similar merchandise, has caused, and/or is likely to cause confusion, mistake, and deception among consumers.” The bar arrived at the $3.5 million number based on past revenue as well as a “reasonable approximation” of the possible business-related damages.
A rep for the NHL Seattle Kraken tells Eater Seattle, “We have been made aware that Seattle Hockey Partners, LLC is potentially party to a lawsuit by various media outlets. However, at this point in time, we have not been served with any legal documentation. We do not comment on potential litigation and have no further statements at this moment.”
Though the complaint and summons have been filed in King County Superior Court, no judge has ruled on the lawsuit yet.