A similarly named San Francisco-based hospitality company is suing Equinox Holdings Inc., New York, alleging the health club company's recent venture into the hospitality business will illegally "usurp" its 23-year-old brand.
Founded in 1994, Equinox Hotel Management Inc., San Francisco, develops, manages and invests in hotel properties in the United States, the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia. In a Nov. 1 complaint filed in California federal court, Equinox Hotel Management said it had not authorized Equinox Holdings Inc. to use its name or brand likeness.
Equinox Holdings, which operates 91 health clubs in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, is planning to open hotel concepts in New York and Los Angeles starting in 2019.
Equinox Hotel Management is seeking unnamed trademark infringement damages, attorneys fees and "just and proper relief" under the court, according to the complaint. Additionally, it has requested that Equinox Holdings Inc. be prohibited from using "any mark that wholly incorporates the term EQUINOX, or any other mark that is confusingly similar to or a colorable imitation of the EQUINOX Marks owned by Equinox Hotels, in connection with hotels or hotel management services," as well as "otherwise competing unfairly with Equinox Hotels in any manner."
The complaint states: "As a direct and proximate result of Defendant’s unauthorized applications for the EQUINOX Holdings Marks for hotel services, Equinox Hotels has been, is now, and will be irreparably injured and damaged by Defendant’s aforementioned applications, and unless the applications are refused registration by order of the Court, Equinox Hotels will suffer further harm to its name, reputation, and goodwill. ... On information and belief, Defendant has acted with full knowledge of Equinox Hotels’ rights and with the intention to usurp such rights and, therefore, its aforementioned acts are willful and intentional."
On Dec. 12, 2017, legal counsel for Equinox Holdings filed an opposing motion to the plaintiff's motion for preliminary injunction.
In their opposition, Equinox Holdings' attorneys disputed the case's classification as "David versus Goliath" and called the complaint an "abuse of the judicial system." They argued the timing of the complaint alone is reason enough for the court to deny Equinox Hotel Management's motion, as well as to demonstrate there has been "no irreparable harm," as the company has been aware of Equinox Holdings' business plans since April 2015.
"And, as Plaintiff knows, Defendant’s first hotel will not open until 2019, and thus there is nothing imminent about to happen that requires the extraordinary relief it seeks here," the opposing motion states.
Equinox Holdings also argues "there is no likelihood of confusion among the relevant consumers" because "[Equinox Hotel Management] does not have its own line of hotels, and it has never even operated a single hotel called EQUINOX."
The opposing motion states: "The parties have coexisted during these past 20 years with no confusion, and Plaintiff has never objected until now. Given the significant differences in the parties’ businesses and brand images, it would be unfair to grant Plaintiff a monopoly in the common English word 'Equinox' throughout an entire industry."
In March 2017, Equinox Holdings announced former CEO Harvey Spevak was being promoted to executive chairman and managing partner of Equinox Holdings Inc., and Niki Leondakis, former CEO of hotels and resorts of Two Roads Hospitality, Englewood, Colorado, would become CEO of Equinox Fitness Clubs. She moved into that role in April.
Leondakis was, in part, chosen for her ability to lead the development of the company’s forthcoming hotel concept, the first of which is slated to open in 2019.
Equinox Hotels “will cater exclusively to the high-performance traveler to serve as the ultimate hotel destination with a 360-degree lifestyle experience,” a media release said.
Equinox ranked No. 5 on Club Industry's 2017 Top 100 Clubs list with an estimated 2016 revenue of $1.09 billion.