Just three months after opening its doors, a restaurant in Ottawa's Glebe neighbourhood has changed its name because of a trademark dispute.
Liam Vainola opened Earl's Variety and named it in honour of his grandfather, Norwegian-born Erling Bjorgan.
"Growing up in Canada everyone always called him Earl so I just went with Earl," said Vainola.
But about a month after Vainola's shop opened, the Vancouver-based restaurant chain Earls told him they hold the Canadian trademark on the name and said he couldn't use it.
Earls has five locations in Ontario, and though they do not yet have a restaurant in Ottawa, company spokeswoman Cate Simpson said protecting their brand is always top of mind, especially as the chain expands east.
"We do plan on coming into Ottawa as well so it's important that we hold our brand distinct and authentic," she said.
Vainola said it wasn't a fight he could win.
Fighting for name not an option, owner says
"They could have taken us to court, the legal fees could have been insane. So, we chose not to fight them on it. It wasn't really an option just from a financial standpoint — I mean we're just getting started, so every dollar counts at this point," he said.
Earl's Variety is now known as Erling's Variety, after Vainola registered the new name with Service Ontario, had a new logo created and rebranded the restaurant and its website.
Vainola said if the company does expand to Ottawa, he'll be happy he changed the name.
"If they do move in, it's a blessing cause I don't want to be confused with them," he said.