FALL RIVER, Mass. (WPRI) — There are numerous questions surrounding the Lizzie Borden House, including whether she actually murdered her father and stepmother with an axe inside their Fall River home.
The answer to that question may forever remain a mystery, since Borden was tried and acquitted for the 1982 murders.
But U.S. Ghost Adventures, which owns the historic home, recently posed their own question, though not directly about how the couple met their untimely demise.
Instead, Ghost Adventures recently pondered whether the recently opened coffee shop next door was infringing on their Lizzie Borden trademark.
Ghost Adventures claims to offer “authentic ghost tours” of the country’s most notoriously haunted properties, including the Lizzie Borden House.
The coffee shop in question, named “Miss Lizzie’s Coffee,” opened next door to the historic house earlier this year, prompting Ghost Adventures to file a trademark lawsuit.
Laurie Pereira, who owns the coffee shop with her husband, told 12 News their Lizzie Borden-themed coffee shop highlights the history of the murders and their impact on the Spindle City.
“We’ve heard the story since we were kids,” Pereira explained. “My husband was always intrigued with the mystery of it. He decided to name it Miss Lizzie’s, so when people would visit Fall River, we could tell them the story.”
Judge Leo Sorokin determined that the coffee shop’s name refers to the historical story rather than the Ghost Adventures business. He denied a temporary restraining order put forth by Ghost Adventures that would have required the coffee shop to stop using Lizzie Borden’s name until an official ruling has been made.
“While Ghost Adventures has an ‘incontestable’ trademark in ‘Lizzie Borden’ and its hatchet, Miss Lizzie’s is using neither the mark “Lizzie Borden” nor the Ghost Adventures hatchet,” Sorokin wrote in his decision.
Sorokin also noted that the businesses are not direct competitors, and there are notices posted within the coffee shop clarifying that there is no affiliation between the two.
“Ghost Adventures contends that it ‘does not claim a monopoly on the story of Lizzie Borden or its non-trademarked use; it merely seeks to protect the recognition and good will established in its registered trademark from confusingly similar uses'” Sorokin continued. “There is, however, no ‘confusingly similar use’ here. Ghost Adventures is really claiming that, because it has registered the term ‘Lizzie Borden’ along with one type of hatchet: (1) no one can use any of these words or any hatchet symbol in a business in the hospitality field, and (2) no one can trade on the Lizzie Borden history in the hospitality field—at least in the vicinity of Ghost Adventures’ business. Ghost Adventures has not demonstrated a likelihood of success on this broad reach.”
Pereira and her husband are elated by the judge’s decision, adding that they plan on expanding the coffee shop into another vacant space next door.
It’s unclear whether Ghost Adventures will appeal Sorokin’s decision. 12 News reached out to the Lizzie Borden House and Ghost Adventures regarding the judge’s decision but has not yet heard back.
Sorokin explained that Ghost Adventures has a limited chance of success with its current argument.