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Nov 18, 2009 11:12 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Four Seasons Caterer Southampton asked to change its name

Nov 18, 2009 11:12 AM

Jean Mackenzie, the owner of Four Seasons Caterer Southampton on Prospect Street, might have to change the name of her business thanks to a barrage of letters and a phone call from the Four Seasons Restaurant in New York City.

Ms. Mackenzie, who also owns The Clamman Seafood Market on North Sea Road, said that she has been receiving letters from Manhattan attorney Karen Monroe since July, and also fielded a phone call from Alex von Bidder, the owner of the Four Seasons Restaurant. A letter from Ms. Monroe sent on July 13 states that Ms. Mackenzie is in violation of Mr. von Bidder’s “valuable trademark rights.” The letter states that The Four Seasons Restaurant owns the federally registered trademark “Four Seasons.”

Mr. von Bidder and Ms. Monroe, who is a partner at Siller Wilk LLP, did not return phone calls placed Tuesday.

Ms. Mackenzie said that no one in Southampton has mistaken her catering hall for the Manhattan restaurant. “In my years doing business, no one has ever confused me with Alex von Bidder,” Ms. Mackenzie said.

She came up with name Four Seasons Caterer Southampton because she wanted to let her customers know that she was open for business year-round. She said she had been catering clambakes and summer parties for her clients, but her phone typically stopped ringing after Labor Day.

“I wanted people to see me catering their Christmas parties or cocktail parties,” Ms. Mackenzie said.

Before she opened up the catering business about four years ago, Ms. Mackenzie consulted Water Mill attorney Michael Walsh on her name choice. Mr. Walsh told her there were 11,000 other businesses with the “Four Seasons” name and that the name should not create a problem, she said. There is a “Four Seasons Nail and Hair Salon” in Bayport, a “Four Seasons Promotions Inc.” in Holbrook, and a “Four Seasons Cesspool” in Ronkonkoma, according to a Google search.

The letter from Ms. Monroe states that Mr. von Bidder sees Ms. Mackenzie’s use of the “Four Seasons” name as an infringement on his trademark, and “constitutes unfair competition.” The letter demands Ms. Mackenzie change the name of the restaurant, and destroy any advertising or promotional material bearing the name.

Ms. Mackenzie said that she put a stop order on business cards bearing the name, but is allowing advertisements with the name that she has already placed in local publications to continue. She said that she has a website for her business and owns the domain name “FourSeasonsCaterer.com.”

She hopes that she and the company can reach a settlement on the name and sees changing the name of her business as a worse-case scenario. If she had to change the name, she would pick “Mackenzie’s,” after her last name and her daughter, Mackenzie Koster.

“Big companies suing the little people is not right, but I don’t have the money to fight it,” Ms. Mackenzie said.

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The Four Seasons in Manhatten has been around for many years-I was surprised to find out they were not connected to this new business.The right thing to do
is change the name.
By nurse (53), sag harbor on Nov 17, 09 10:06 PM
With 11,000 other companies using Four Seasons in their names, I think you should be able to keep the name you have.
By peoplefirst (787), Southampton on Nov 18, 09 3:10 PM
3 members liked this comment
Leave the locals alone Alex von bitter just because she HAPPENS to have the business with a name like yours. Go play patty cake with your overpriced attorney and leave this nice family alone. If there are 11,00o other business with Four Seasons in the name, who cares about having 1 more added to the list. Go play in traffic Mr. Von Bitter and Ms. Overprice Attorney
By LovedHerTown (132), southampton on Nov 20, 09 1:32 PM
I thought Four Seasons Cesspool was Alex Von Bitter's other company... They pump what he talks. When you google four seasons, the hotel chain is the first hit. Is Herr Von Bitter also attacking them?
By Draggerman (955), Southampton on Nov 20, 09 3:52 PM
1 member liked this comment
OK le me change all my holiday plans to NYC "Four Seasons". I hope more people follow this nonsense of the snooty Von Bitter, now we know how he got his last name...bitter.
By nazz (22), Flanders on Nov 20, 09 4:47 PM
sorry, not in the know here, but is alex von bitter with the restaurant or the hotel on 57th wher all the middle aged "professional women" hang out??
thers no critical value in being linked to either one really - her idea of being all year round is a nice one and gives off a mmcuh mmore legitimate connotation than some 'four season' experience one might have in the center of the concrete jungle....
how about ALL FOUR SEASONS Catering, or ENJOY The FOUR SEASONS Catering, or FOR FOUR SEASONS, ...more
By david h (405), southampton on Nov 23, 09 8:08 AM
1 member liked this comment
The bitter , Mr. von Bitter should be so lucky to have his Four Season's associated with Southampton's very own Four Seasons .
By AndersEn (174), Southampton on Nov 23, 09 11:58 AM
1 member liked this comment
...ahem , That's von B i d d e r . My bad Alex . That won't happen again .
By AndersEn (174), Southampton on Nov 23, 09 12:01 PM