Famous Joe’s Pizza of the Village (or “JPV”), by contrast, has received reviews that Judge Cogan has called “somewhat tongue-in-cheek.” In 2006, for instance, Time Out New York described JPV’s fare in a less than charitable fashion: It’s good at 2 a.m. when “you’re drunk.”
For the first six years that Mr. Zarco’s pizza shop was open, the Pozzuolis were unaware of their copycat in Brooklyn, court papers say. But in 2010, in a kind of sit-down summit, Mr. Pozzuoli Jr. visited his rival and asked him to stop using his family’s trademarked name. Mr. Zarco, however, has a different version of events. He claims that Mr. Pozzuoli Jr. appeared one day, looked around and said, “With you we have no problem. Everything is O.K.”
Legally speaking, it was O.K. for another seven years. But according to court papers, that changed in October, when Mr. Zarco put up a sign that was, as Judge Cogan said, “nearly indistinguishable” from the one JP had been using since 1983.
Was it really mere coincidence, the Pozzuolis asked, that Mr. Zarco had availed himself of the exact same design — the one with “Joe’s” in a red, slanting script and “PIZZA” in block text set against a solid wash of white? Mr. Pozzuoli Jr. sent Mr. Zarco a cease-and-desist letter when he learned about the sign. Mr. Zarco changed it, but only slightly — straightening the “Joe’s.” The lawsuit quickly followed.
In January, Judge Cogan issued an opinion enjoining JPV from using the duplicative design, saying that Mr. Zarco’s version of events struck him as “dubious.” Judge Cogan found that the sign was an attempt “to create the impression among customers and potential customers” that the two pizzerias were “associated.”
In his opinion, the judge said that more than the logo had been stolen. Mr. Zarco, he explained, had adorned the walls of JPV with photographs of Mr. Maguire and others that had actually been taken at the Manhattan pizzeria; he had also posted images on JPV’s social-media accounts of “Spiderman 2” — Mr. Maguire’s hit movie — being filmed at JP.
You might have thought that all this evidence, in a federal judge’s order, would have ended the fight. But as in other conflicts, a cease-fire in a pizza war isn’t easily achieved. Within three weeks of the order being issued, the Pozzuolis had already accused Mr. Zarco of ignoring it.
In a letter to Judge Cogan, the Pozzuolis claimed that while their rival’s sign had indeed changed — barely — his Twitter page was still using their logo, which had also appeared on Mr. Zarco’s GrubHub account. They further said that JPV had borrowed the one-of-a-kind “soccer dog logo” they had briefly used to promote their pies during the World Cup. As for the photograph of Mr. Maguire, it had not been taken down, they claimed. In fact, it was “enlarged.”
Three days later, Mr. Zarco wrote his own note to the judge saying that he had just fixed his Twitter page and that GrubHub had “migrated all the information” from another food website without his knowledge. He said the Pozzuolis’ accusation that his photo collection had changed “for the worse” was patently false. Then in a follow-up note, he took a subtle swipe at his former bosses, complaining that their pizzeria’s “name is as generic as the pizza they serve.”
Mr. Zarco’s lawyer, William Hochberg, said his client was not “looking for trouble, but he won’t be trampled on” by the Pozzuolis’ “zealous pizza lawyers.”
“We hope to reach a truce that makes sense for all,” Mr. Hochberg said, “especially the pizza-loving customers.”
At lunch on Friday, there was little sign at either pizzeria that a bitter battle was raging in the courts. Inside JPV, a few students from William Alexander Middle School sat at a booth plucking strings of gooey cheese from their slices and washing them down with soft drinks. Across the river at JP, an older clientele stood at a counter at the rain-smeared window, savoring their crusts, blackened lightly with a char.
The air of normalcy led one to wonder how pizza wars get started in the first place. This was a question that the younger Mr. Pozzuoli has thought about for years.
“Pizza is so commonplace these days that I guess when you have a standout product, others try to mimic it,” he said. “It’s no surprise to us. People are passionate about pizza.”
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