Edinburgh’s @pizza facing legal action from US chain &pizza

The West End pizza venue is facing a legal challenge from the Washington DC-based brand

Feature by Peter Simpson | 23 Nov 2017
  • And Pizza

@pizza (pronounced 'at pizza'), an Edinburgh restaurant which claims to produce ‘The World’s Fastest Pizza’, has found itself in a legal battle over allegations it has copied large parts of its design identity and product range from a US chain.

&pizza (pronounced 'and pizza') was founded in Washington DC in 2012, and has since earned a number of plaudits for its community-led ethos, design, and for its pizza, which its customers are encouraged to customise to their heart’s content. @pizza’s first restaurant opens this weekend, and the alleged similarities between the two in menu, design and language have prompted the US brand – which received $25 million of investment for expansion last year and has plans to expand to the UK – to take action.

In court filings unearthed by Eater DC, &pizza’s parent company Ima Pizza allege that the Edinburgh restaurant’s owners took repeated visits to the US chain’s sites to research the brand before returning to Scotland to create their business. Among the allegations in the suit, filed in U.S. District Court and available to read via Scribd here, are that @pizza copied extensive elements of &pizza’s brand, including their logo, oval-shaped pizzas and some of &pizza’s core values from the brand’s mission statement. There are also claims that @pizza's marketing materials feature photographs taken at a number of &pizza locations, with some of the images even featuring the US chain's branding.

In a statement to The Skinny, @pizza co-founders Bhasker Dhir and Rupert Lyle said: "If there was any basis to these claims this action would be taken in the UK. Any claims from other restaurants have no legal basis and will not prevent us from operating or expanding the business. We are confident that @pizza is making a bold new statement about what pizza can be and customers in Edinburgh can taste this first hand at our restaurant."

&pizza CEO, creative director and co-founder Michael Lastoria told The Skinny via email:  “&pizza was founded in the heart [of] Washington, D.C., and we continue to support, and be supported by, the creative community. Planned European expansion notwithstanding, our legal action against this imitator in Scotland stems from a desire to protect the things we hold most dear – our brand, our hometown, our creativity, our Tribe members, and our community of loyal guests.

"We were alerted to this situation by a fan – for him, and others like him, it's essential that we take action to preserve our creative property so that, as we grow, we can continue to spread our brand values: strength, unity and connectedness.” Earlier this month Lastoria told Eater: “We have seen elements of this happen before but not as blatant.”

&pizza’s lawsuit calls for $2 million in damages, as well as a jury trial to hear their arguments. @pizza opens on Sat 25 Nov at Charlotte Lane, Edinburgh.