Fenway Enterprises runs the “Verb” Hotel, a retro, music-themed hotel located just outside of Fenway Park that opened in 2014. As is mentioned on its website, the name for the hotel was chosen as a shortened form of the musical term “reverb,” as well as for signifying action.
Fenway asserts that Hard Rock’s planned launch of a series of musical themed hotels under the name “Reverb” will infringe its federally-registered “VERB” mark for hotel services, as well as its common law rights in the mark. Hard Rock has filed intent-to-use applications for “Reverb” and “Reverb by Hard Rock” for hotel, restaurant, bar and casino services, and already has a website devoted to the new hotel chain, www.reverbhotels.com. Fenway Enterprises asserts that its hotel’s success hinges on the authenticity of its hotel, which would be harmed by association with the Hard Rock’s “glitzy, overstated chain hotels,” expressly citing a giant, guitar-shaped hotel to be opened by the Hard Rock in Florida that has earned the description “monstrosity that has offended nature itself.” Fenway Enterprises further cites the reality television show Rehab: Party at the Hard Rock Hotel as associating the Hard Rock brand with drinking, drug abuse and debauchery. Fenway says that Hard Rock was notified of the Verb Hotel in March, but has thus far refused to rebrand the planned REVERB hotel franchise. In addition to trademark infringement, Fenway asserts violation of Ch. 93A, although it may have difficulty proving that the acts complained of occurred substantially within the Commonwealth – the first REVERB hotel is planned for Atlanta, with a second to follow in California.