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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Red Lion sues Hard Rock Cafe, alleging its hotel brand aimed at millennials is a knockoff

UPDATED: Fri., July 14, 2017

In the newly renovated Hotel RL by Red Lion lobby, hotel quests lounge in cocoons hanging from a pergola. The downtown hotel, along the north bank of the Spokane River, has been remade to be more inviting to guests and the community. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
In the newly renovated Hotel RL by Red Lion lobby, hotel quests lounge in cocoons hanging from a pergola. The downtown hotel, along the north bank of the Spokane River, has been remade to be more inviting to guests and the community. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

Red Lion Hotels’ parent company is suing Hard Rock Cafe International, saying the hotel chain has copied plans for its brand aimed at millennials.

Spokane-based RLH Corp. filed the lawsuit Wednesday in U.S. District Court in New York. Hard Rock Cafe officials could not be immediately reached for comment.

Hard Rock International said in a Friday news release that RLH Corp.’s claims are without merit and will be contested. The release said Hard Rock would not comment further on the pending litigation.

Red Lion debuted its hotel brand targeting millennials two years ago. The concept, designed by The Gettys Group, features a coffee bar with trained baristas in the lobby, a stage for local artists and civic events with stadium-like seating, and tech-savvy front desks that allow guests to check in at kiosks, if they prefer. In the lawsuit, Red Lion accuses Hard Rock Cafe of launching a competing line of hotels aimed at millennials, called Reverb, with a knockoff design. The Gettys Group also designed the Reverb hotels, the suit said.

“While imitation is the sincerest form of flattery … we are not appreciative of Hard Rock’s wholesale infringement of our trade dress with The Gettys Group’s help,” Greg Mount, RLH Corp.’s president and chief executive, said in a news release.

Trade dress refers to the visual appearance of a product, and it is considered intellectual property.

Red Lion is seeking an injunction against Hard Rock Cafe, damages, profits from the Reverb chain, legal fees and costs. The company also is taking action against The Gettys Group, a hotel design and development firm, the news release said.

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