What does the Chateau Marmont have against cats? Lawyers for Andre Balazs‘ Sunset Strip hangout recently sent a cease and desist letter to Cateau Marmont, a Toluca Lake kitty-only grooming and boarding service, threatening a lawsuit if the name isn’t changed.
The Chateau has spent nearly a hundred years cultivating its brand, according to the July 18 letter, and it doesn’t want its customers to think it has entered the cat spa business. Group 99, which controls the Chateau’s intellectual property, warns the Cateau that it may pursue claims for trademark infringement, trademark dilution and unfair competition.
The Cateau’s Jennifer Shields won’t just roll over, though. Her lawyer R. Joseph Trojan sent a biting response last week, arguing that no reasonable person would confuse an expensive hotel and bar with his client’s operation, which also rescues kittens from the Hollywood streets. “No bar services are offered to the cats at any time,” writes Trojan. “To our knowledge, your client has never used its luxury hotel rooms to shelter homeless animals.”
Perhaps most notably, Trojan argues the Chateau can’t complain about trademark dilution because it isn’t actually famous outside of the select group of “elites and well-heeled hipsters” that frequent the hotel. While Shields won’t change the Cateau’s name, she is willing to promise not to expand into “hospitality services for humans” — as long as the hotel agrees to back off by Aug. 19.
It’s worth noting that, for some reason, the hotel seemingly has no problem with Chateau Marmutt, a Beverly Grove dog spa that has been in business since the late 1990s. The Chateau’s attorney Christopher Dolan didn’t respond when THR asked why only feline establishments were being targeted. It could be that the name is different enough to avoid a fight — sharing only “chateau” and not “Marmont” — or maybe Balazs is just a dog person.
A version of this story first appeared in the Aug. 16 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.