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Friday, October 18, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Business

Possible trademark infringement forces Scofflaws Book Club owner to change new bar’s name

UPDATED: Mon., Sept. 30, 2019, 7:35 p.m.

Scofflaws Book Club opened two weeks ago in downtown Spokane’s American Legion Building, 108 N. Washington St.. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
Scofflaws Book Club opened two weeks ago in downtown Spokane’s American Legion Building, 108 N. Washington St.. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

This is one scofflaw who follows the rules.

Scofflaws Book Club, a 2-week-old bar in downtown Spokane’s American Legion Building, 108 N. Washington St., will change its name to Riverside Book Club after hearing from two other Scofflaw-named drinking establishments.

“In Chicago, they trademarked it. So I don’t have much choice,” said Bryan Harkey, the Spokane bar’s owner.

Harkey admitted he should’ve done more research on the use of scofflaw, which was coined during Prohibition to describe someone who drank alcohol illegally. But it didn’t cross his mind until he heard from Scofflaw Brewing Co. in Atlanta. The owners said they were OK with him using the name as long as he didn’t make a beer named Scofflaw.

“About an hour later, I got the one (letter) from Chicago,” Harkey said. “It was going to cost me $500 just to get a lawyer to look into it.”

Instead, Harkey is rehiring the person who made the logo for his menus. “My ambition tomorrow is to get as much changed as I can. I’m hoping my logo guy can change it quickly,” he said.

As for the new name, Harkey gave two reasons. First, the word “Riverside” has the same number of letters as “Scofflaws.”

“So it’s a simple change to the logo,” he said.

Second, even though Harkey’s bar faces Riverside Avenue, its address is on Washington Street. The new name may help clear up any confusion, Harkey said. If it doesn’t, Harkey said the false-front bookcase he built to greet visitors is a good clue. To enter the bar, they have to pull a book out of the case, which swings open to reveal the bar.

“Look for the bookshelf,” he said, as a tip.

Harkey, who will mark the bar’s second-week anniversary on Wednesday, said the name change isn’t ideal, but he’s more focused on the drink menu. Currently, he has a Boulevardier cocktail on tap, and his signature drinks include a Bloody Verde and an Old Fashioned with coconut-infused bourbon.

“It’s unfortunate,” Harkey said. “Live and learn I guess.”

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