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Silvercup sues hotel over copyright issue

Prominent Long Island City film studio company Silvercup Studios is suing a Manhattan developer who plans to open a hotel with a similar name close by. But the developer, despite changing the hotel’s name, denied any copyright infringement in papers filed in Brooklyn federal court last month.

In a suit filed in December, Silvercup Studios Associates Limited Partnership alleges that Steven Baharestani, aka Steve Bahar, who has been building a nine-story hotel at 29-11 39th Ave. in Long Island City, chose to name the business Silvercup Hotel and secured the web site domain names “silvercuphotel.com” and “silvercupstudio.com” in an effort to profit from the reputation of the movie studio and its owners.

The studio, at 42-25 21st St. in Long Island City, where the TV shows “30 Rock” and “Gossip Girl” are filmed, said it is also planning to open a residential/commercial mixed-use development called Silvercup West and a 76-unit luxury condo building named The Industry LIC in the neighborhood.

The studio did not return calls for comment.

“[Baharestani] incorporated the term Silvercup as the name of the hotel to take advantage of the goodwill inherent in the Silvercup Marks and because of the proposed hotel’s proximity to [the company]’s Silvercup Studios facilities,” the suit filed by the studio said.

The suit accuses Baharestani of infringement, unfair competition, cyberpiracy and trademark dilution. The company also requested in the suit that the court deny Baharestani the right to use any name involving the words “silver” and “cup,” order him to give up his domain names and pay damages of $200,000 or more plus legal fees to the movie studio.

In separate court papers filed Jan. 24, Baharestani contended the similar names would not cause confusion, saying many other companies — including a fish-feed company — had similar names and accused the movie studio of making false claims of domain hijacking. Baharestani also claimed in the papers to have offered to transfer the domain name to the company.

“Defendants are an innocent infringer, if they are determined to have infringed at all,” Sammy Kye, defense attorney for the suit, in the court papers.

Baharestani changed the hotel to Hotel Vetiver last week in light of the lawsuit, but said he still imagines the studio will continue the suit. The main URL is hotelvetiver.com, although silvercuphotel.com is still used to redirect to the new website.

“I hope the courts recognize that we have very strong rights to the mark Silver Cup Hotel since Silvercup Studios is not in the hospitality industry,” he said.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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