Cousins Feud in Philly Cheesesteak Suit

The Associated Press
Wednesday, October 18, 2006; 11:43 PM

PHILADELPHIA -- The battle for cheesesteak supremacy _ usually fought with beef, onions and cheese _ has moved out of the kitchen and into the courthouse.

Pat's King of Steaks, a South Philadelphia institution since the 1930s, is suing Rick's Steaks for trademark infringement.

The two eateries involved, located less than two miles apart, each are owned by a grandson of Pat Olivieri, purported inventor of Philly's favorite sandwich.

Scott Pollack, the lawyer for Pat's, said Wednesday that the businesses are not connected in any way _ even if the owners are. Pat's owner Frank Olivieri never gave permission for cousin Rick Olivieri to use the trademarks in his advertising and signage, Pollack said.

"Obviously, Pat's Steaks is very, very famous. It's known all over the country and the world," said Pollack.

The lawsuit filed Monday by Pat's claims that Rick's has been illegally trading on Pat's name, its crown logo and trademarked phrases, including "Pat's King of Steaks Originators of the Steak Sandwich." It seeks unspecified damages and an order preventing Rick's from using the material.

Rick Olivieri said his lawyer has not yet reviewed the lawsuit.

Frank Olivieri only learned of the alleged trademark infringement over the summer, after Rick Olivieri appeared on NBC's "Today" show and after the opening of Rick's stand at Citizens Bank Park, the baseball stadium for the Philadelphia Phillies, Pollack said.

The Web sites for the two cheesesteak purveyors offer a similar history of the sandwich, though they differ on some details.

Essentially, they say that Pat Olivieri invented the cheesesteak in the early 1930s while operating a hot dog stand in South Philly. After making a sandwich for himself on the grill _ meat and onions on an Italian roll _ a passing cab driver got a whiff. The cabbie tried it, and a Philly favorite was born. Cheese was added later.


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