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Restaurants / Newsy

Noodle Fight — Ramen Giant Sues Three Houston Restaurants for Stealing Its “Intellectual Property”

BY // 01.12.18

Things are looking pretty raw in the world of  Houston ramen. Jinya Ramen Bar, a Japanese-originated ramen franchise with five Houston area locations, has accused three local restaurants of copyright and trade dress infringement.

Jinya thinks it’s found some copycats, and its claws are out.

The Japanese noodle powerhouse has targeted Houston’s Ramen Fun and Mikoto Ramen and Sushi Bar, as well as Atsumi Asian Kitchen and Sushi Bar in The Woodlands, in the suit. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas on January 4.

The purported similarities between Jinya and the accused have “tarnished and diluted the reputation of Jinya,” the suit alleges. Jinya’s lawsuit also claims that the restaurants “stole its intellectual property.”

The chain opened its first H-Town location in October 2014 near NASA, at 18299 Egret Bay Blvd. Its popular midtown location at 3201 Louisiana followed within the next six months or so. The noodle giant’s since added restaurants in The Woodlands, Katy and on FM1960.

Ramen Fun, Mikoto, and Atsumi all opened after the initial Jinya Ramen debuted.

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Ramen Fun, located at 3645 Farm to Market 1960, bears the brunt of the accusations. Allegations of infringements include the restaurant’s bowls, employee uniforms, and menu.

The most egregious claim leveled against Ramen Fun? That its menu design features “components copied directly from the Jinya Ramen’s menu,” according to court documents. The suit asserts that when copying a recipe directly from the Jinya menu, the individual “actually transcribed the name of Jinya sauce,” shown in an attached photo exhibit.

Atsumi in The Woodlands and Mikoto at 12155 Katy Freeway’s interior designs are eerily similar, “if not identical” to Jinya’s, the suit states.

Those accused of pirating could face some pretty hefty penalties. Jinya is seeking unspecified monetary damages, and then some. The chain has also requested a judge to make the three restaurants destroy any and all displays, products, advertisements, or like materials that infringe on Jinya’s intellectual property.

A Ramen Revolution

The Houston ramen craze really took off in 2014. Avid eaters started saying Amen to ramen four years ago, and it seems like a good majority chose Jinya.

Currently, Jinya’s midtown location has 4.5 stars on Yelp out of 1,904 reviews. Let’s look at the stats for the accused. Ramen Fun: 4 stars, 151 reviews. Mikoto’s only a 3.5, 257 reviews. And Atsumi also comes in at 3.5, but has just 144 reviews.

Suffice it to say, if the restaurants are actually trying their hand at mimicry, it’s not going so hot. But are they even doing that? Time will tell. Imitation is supposed to be the sincerest form of flattery.

But then again, flattery gets you nowhere.

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