Pizzeria plagiarism? Napolese suing Crust over close likeness

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A pizza war has broken out in Indianapolis—not in the kitchen, but in the courts.

Cafe Patachou founder Martha Hoover, whose restaurant concepts include the artisanal pizzeria Napolese, is suing Mohey Osman, the owner of newcomer Crust Pizzeria Napoletana, claiming he’s ripped off her pizzeria’s entire look.

“This is an issue of customer confusion, pure and simple,” Hoover told IBJ on Wednesday morning. “I really believe they can operate any restaurant they want. My concern is that they mimicked almost every aspect of our interior design, and it’s confusing to customers.”

The resemblance is so severe, the lawsuit charges, that it led one visitor to Crust to tweet, “Is Crust in Carmel somehow related, or did it just rip off @NapolesePizza’s…everything?”

Crust opened in September at 12505 Old Meridian St.

Reached by phone, Osman said he disagreed with the allegations and doesn’t believe there’s a resemblance. Asked if he was willing to make any changes, Osman responded, “absolutely not.”

napolese logo 15col Among the similarities cited in the suit is the alleged likeness between the logos of Napolese (above) and Carmel-based newcomer Crust (below).

Hoover’s lawsuit charges that the look of Crust's menu, the industrial-style seating, and general design and set-up of its bar and wine rack are among the similarities that are likely to imply to customers that there’s an association between Crust and Napolese.

Hoover cites other resemblances, including Crust’s color scheme and its use of inspirational quotes in restrooms.

crust logo 15col

Hoover filed her suit in Marion Superior Court on Friday and is seeking a preliminary injunction to stop Crust from using her intellectual property, trade design and trade dress. A hearing has been scheduled for Oct. 31.

She’s suing Osman and Crust for trademark infringement, unfair competition and forgery.

Hoover said she has not been in Crust but has received phone calls, text messages and emails from customers who have, wondering if it’s part of her Patachou business because it looks so similar to Napolese.

“I’ve put so much energy into protecting our trade dress, I felt it was important for them to make some changes so there simply is no brand confusion,” Hoover said.

Hoover launched Napolese in 2010 at 49th and Pennsylvania streets, in the same retail center that houses the original Cafe Patachou location that opened in 1989. Two more Napolese locations have followed, at 30 S. Meridian St. downtown and in the Fashion Mall at Keystone.

Osman, a Cairo native, owned and operated The Egyptian Cafe & Hooka Bar in Broad Ripple before recently selling it.


  • Pathetic
    I've been to both Crust and Napolese multiple times and not once was I confused about where I was, nor did I think when I went to Crust that I was at a Napolese. Crust, Napolese - gah - the names are so similar!? I'm sooo confused... *groan* Napolese hardly invented their 'look' - as many have said, if you've ever left the city, it's hardly original. Martha, compete on your product (which you should refocus on - it's been going downhill) not by being a bully. I'm disappointed.
  • Think I can speak for some owners when..
    Funny how when we read about a hiccup a local business is having there are always 50+ comments that usually stray into how overpriced/poorly run/going downhill the establishment is. This has been true for every major player or popular place that make the news. Never mind the jobs created or attempt at improving the local food culture in this town, It always turns into a hatchet job on the operator. I read other newspapers from around the country and Indy seems to be the only town that readers comment incessantly on what, in the big picture, is a passing story or non-story. Why is this? The fact that the main grumps wouldn't have the bawls to open a lemonade stand but are "experts" in Foodservice makes most of us laugh. We await our turn to be skewered by the public at some point as well. Ha ha.. Now as far as all you folks from other towns that have to tolerate little Indy I call BS. You act like you can't get a bad meal in LA or Chicago and that restaurants don't close there on a weekly basis. Don't like what's being offered is this town? Open your own place. That's what we all decided to do.
  • Its about the Brand
    I have a townhome at Providence next door to Crust. First time I saw it I thought it was Napolis. Its exactly the same. A brand is a businesses most valuable asset. I would personally never eat at McDonalds, but those arches, that drab interior and plastic exterior are worth $40 Billion dollars to its shareholders. And I would no more justify someone stealing any of their brand elements than cash out of their registers. I applaud Mrs Hoover for defending her brand.
  • Bargain???
    You must print money at home... or have a trust fund.
  • curious
    Curious how the crowds are at both restaurants this weekend.
  • Napolese
    Napolese has the best pizza in town. I frequently eat at one on 49th St. It is the closest thing to Italian style pizza served in Europe. The only thing that's missing is brick oven. However, those are so rare in US that I can't hold it against them. As far as lawsuit goes, she has probably accomplished what she intended to accomplish, and that is to make sure that people know Crust is not her restaurant to limit any damage to her brand. Osman was making a killing in early years w Egyptian in BR, but Lava that opened couple of years ago must have stolen his clientele.
  • Small Town Arrogance
    At various times in my life, I've lived in New York, Chicago, and San Francisco so I'm always on the lookout for a good pizza. I was happy to find Napolese several years ago and I have been going at least once a month since it opened. I became a loyal promoter of Napolese among my transplant friends. I stood by Martha when her neighbors told me horror stories about her badly behaved dogs. I continued to patronize Napolese when I heard that Martha sued the city over water damage to her Westfield (Broad Ripple) Petit Chou location. Instead of moving the business out of the known flood plane, Hoover used the city's money to remodel the place. So strong was my lust for pizza that I tolerated the clearly diminishing food. On one occasion I pointed out to the waiter that my arugula salad was full of holes because bugs had been chewing the leaves. He said. It's organic. I explained that other organic restaurants do not serve pre-chewed salad. Even though my friends have long since stopped going to Napolese, I faithfully continued to tolerate being packed in like a sardine to the extent that the waiters butt has pushed food around on my table as he spoke to the table next to mine. I've , endured the loud adult-pop and shouted over it through many dinners. I've even endured the pretentious velvet couches which sit about 6 inches too low similar to having tea in a Lewis Carroll story. But this petty lawsuit is the straw that broke this camel's back. Martha, If you feel so threatened by Crust, then they must be all the things that Napolese used to be and no longer is. You should spend your time and money fixing your broken restaurant instead of depriving locals of another opportunity to experience an excellent NY style pizza (and yes I've eaten at Crust).
  • Customer confusion???
    Customer confusion? Does this woman think I am stupid? Maybe she thinks I'm illiterate and cannot read? Focus on Improving the quality or your restaurants, please.
  • Spot on
    As a customer of both businesses that just wants options to dine, I couldn't agree more. And spot on on the recent trend on Napolese.
    • Obvious
      To anyone who has actually seen both restaurants, the only original thing about Crust is the name.
    • pa-ta-HAUGHTY-chou
      Remember Patachou's giant banners screaming they were mentioned in a national foodie magazine? My first visit (and impression) there, I was greeted simply with "coffee is self-serve." These restaurants are okay, but not worthy of their own arrogance. Bad attitude! Bad tea! (a benchmark for any restaurant). Good food, but not THAT good! Evidently the attitude is trickled-down from top.
    • Really!?!
      As a former Carmel/Indpls resident, I always loved Martha Hoover's restaurants. I have also known and have been friendly with her family since I was a child. That being said, REALLY Martha, you're filing a suit against a restaurant you have never even seen????? Unbelievable....
    • Too much
      As an attorney (defense), I see far too many frivolous lawsuits. And while I understand and appreciate that Martha Hoover has every right to protect what is legally hers, I don't believe a style of interior design can be fairly said to be hers. Moreover, her admission that she has never been in the restaurant she is suing suggests to me that (as others here have noted) she is simply dismayed with the notion of competition. Welcome to America, Martha! Finally, as a resident of Meridian-Kessler who is quite familiar with all of her enterprises, I must say that they have been in a downward spiral for some time. The 49th & Penn Patachou is overpriced and the food just ok. The local Napolese is similar, and so LOUD it's not even an enjoyable dinner experience. If Martha wants to use her efforts wisely, it will be at improving what she has rather than trying to scare away what someone else is building.
      • get a grip
        I honestly felt Napolese was a bit derivative when they opened (not that it has stopped me from enjoying their food and their spaces). I have seen similar 'table dress' in many restaurants - both before and after Napolese's opening. This lawsuit comes off very poorly and frankly discourages me from supporting any of Hoover's locations.
      • Nah, the best pizza in town
        ...is at the new WB Pizza on 86th St. three doors west of Athens on 86th. YUM!!!
      • Been to both
        I went to Crust just this week (following the IBJ review), and didn't get a Napolese feel at all. The menu at Napolese is unique -- both in its offerings and presentation. The Crust menu was much more traditional in both -- and price. The Patachou empire thinks too highly of themselves, and it is reflected in the pricing. I won't be patronizing their locations. There are plenty of other options -- Crust among them.
      • business
        I love what Martha Hoover has accomplished. I love the food at all her restaurants. I love the service and the price are a bargin. A superb defination of a small business person using the same pieces and parts and making it successful in everyway. Thank you Martha.
        • Pictures!?!?
          Scott, It would be really helpful if you could provide a photograph of each restaurant with this article. The logos have some similarity but are not confusing by any means. Can you update the story with a photograph of the interior of each establishment?
        • I'm all for protecting your brand...
          But shouldn't she have actually visited Crust?
        • Sour Grapes
          Martha missed an opportunity to open in Carmel first so attack the one who did....come on gal.
        • Napolese
          I've been to her restaurants and I wasn't impressed at all. Napolese messed up my order 2 different times on the same day and once on a different day. Instead of worrying about another restaurant worry about yours.
        • Infringement? The court will decide, but...
          Everyone, please, let's stick to the rules of the game. I'd love to meet anyone who's openly bashing either Martha or Mohey. I'd give you a piece of my mind. Both people are entrepreneurs, and both deserve respect. Let's get to the facts. I'm a designer. I know that there are popular directions that restaurants and home builders take, depending on the times. Indianapolis is late to the "industrial look" party, but it doesn't mean that there should be a battle to who "claimed it" first. Obviously, Chili's isn't going to redo their restaurants to have Friday's' signature black, white and red stripe look, but they are going to update their style to make it more crisp. Regarding the logo design, there are specific fonts that make communicate certain things about your venue. Obviously if you want an old-world look, use serifs.. modern look- use sans-serif fonts. It's not rocket science, every small business owner follows a set of rules. The bottom line is that no restaurant can claim responsibility to inventing those rules, especially in Indy. Coincidences happen, no need to sue about it. Each business owner has their own freedom of expression.
        • Husband Atty
          Her husband is a big time attorney, so Martha will probly get free or discounted legal fees, while Crust will get stuck with exorbitant fees even if he wins.
        • Yes she is
          Lawyer first, last and always. Her true colors come out.
        • Really?
          She doesn't provide the facility or pay the staff of the court, not to mention the judge who presides over the case. Taxpayers do pick up most of the bill for these, with exception to a relatively small filing fee. Additionally, I'm sure this will affect margin at the restaurants so you'll pay that too if you patronize any of them. Don't think for a second this doesn't cost taxpayers. Martha may write the initial check but, it's her customers who will ultimately fund what amounts to a temper tantrum. Waste of time and money.
        • Some people have bad taste
          So there are no similarities in the logo's (clear as say), The interior design similar, be made at your interior designer or architect for designing to similar places (that's what it looks like happened). As far as the Pizza, I wouldn't even try either yucky, skinny, snobby pizza. The best pizza in Central Indiana is South of Chicago Pizza.
          • it's more than just one thing
            Indianapolis and Carmel are two differnent cities! Is every frozen yogurt chain in the city suing each other? They all look the same to me! Oh, you have never even seen the said restaurant you are suing?! And the list just goes on...
          • John F.?
            So you are saying that because someone tweeted an observation that they are similar, that this justifies the suit. You know how many times I hear someone describe something as similar to something else?
          • Not a rip off.
            Martha has the same wine rack as Tartini Pizzeria. It's not like she invented that wine rack or urban style.
          • It's a very common design style.
            Please, even the Piada chain restaurant has this same look and feel. Give me a break. I absolutely love Petite Chou, but this is seriously making me think the owner is getting to big for her britches.
            • copied??
              Has no one here ever traveled? This style is used in restaurants all over; yes, even the inspirational bathroom quotes. Does she seriously believe it's her unique design?? Maybe others *she* copied, will threaten suit so she realizes how rediculous her claim is. Won't be going to Patachou any longer.
            • Really? (and I love the place!)
              I hate to tell Napolese, but they stole their trade dress from URBN Pizza in San Diego. Just Sayin'
            • Please, read the article, then comment
              As is almost always the case, hardly any of the comments to this article read and understood the very clear statements of the first three paragraphs. Instead people comment on all sorts of misconceptions of the facts.
            • What is unique about Napolese?
              If having a name that refers to Naples, Italy and putting a pretty frame around the name makes it a copy of Napolese, HA! and double HA! I don't think either are an exclusive. She'll have to do better than that, or can't she stand the competition? Who else is she going to sue?
            • Seriously
              It seems that Martha Hoover way over her head on this one! Industrial look has been around for 10 years or more,Pizza for ages. The logo shown here for both is not similar in my opinion.Crust is in Carmel and Napolese is in Indy. It looks like she is afraid of competition, free market is all about that. Bulling other entrepreneurs is obvious, she has a cult following herthat don't care about how much they pay for eggs. Next time you are in one of her establishments look around you will see a lot of similarity to any other restaurants in the country, no big deal!! Ruth Cafe Way better.
            • Wow
              Some of you people are clueless to the point of her suit. She ABSOLUTELY has a right to protect her trade dress and I don't blame her one bit. If you don't like food or feel it's too pricey, that's an entirely different issue. But don't begrudge a person from trying to protect a business and a brand they've spent years building in this community. BTW, I happen to enjoy the food and atmosphere at ALL of her establishments (but particularly the new Napolese location downtown).
            • Misunderstanding
              They are McDonald's, we are McDowell's. They have the Big Mack: we have the Big Mick. We both have two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles and onions. Their buns have sesame seeds - my buns have no seeds...
            • Goiing too far
              Seems like I will no longer patronize Martha Hoover's Napolese Pizzera. I see no resemblance between the two that would give the wrong impression to a diner. This is pettiness at its worst.
            • Ire
              OK, I understand that I am opening myself up here for a lot of ire and angst, but I'm posting anyway. I used to go to the original Cafe Patachou @ 49th and Penn quite often, until I could no longer stand the constant screaming of the unattended, over-privileged and undisciplined children. Before you start shrieking, I grew up in Meridian Kessler and loved it, spent most of my life there, but it has changed considerably in the past few years. Regardless, I started frequenting the establishment across from Keystone at the Crossing, liked it, but it just became too ridiculously exhorbitant in price (get real, $20 for an over-priced omelet and coffee???). I will admit that I have never been to Napolese, and likely never will, but I think Martha Hoover has been the recipient of far too many accolades and far too much groveling from the media over the past few years. Yes, she's worked very hard and diligently to build herself an empire, but she's also had a tremendous amount of money bankrolling her. Leave it alone, Martha, you didn't invent pizza, you didn't invent a style, you don't own the world...
            • Not the Logos
              The logos aren't the issue, it's the whole interior design of the restaurant that was "borrowed".
            • Taxpayer money
              I assume the person is talking about the cost of the judge and courthouse personnell.
            • Does that mean
              Marsh's Market Place and Fresh Market should sue each other to. Trust me , I use to work at TFM. People would ask if they needed their Marsh card all the time. So it is the customer who need to pay attention. Martha those logo are not that simalar and more than person can sell that style of pizza. Stop making a mountian out a mole hill. It is what it is and the service of both place will speak as to who survives.
            • Martha please
              Come on Martha, let it go. We have patronized ALL of her restaurants over the years and have admired her, but this is too much. The striking similarities of this place will not impact her vast empire. Wait, I wish it would, it might be easier to get a table at the cozy 49th&Penn Napolese. Artisinal pizza and industrial interiors are trending. Let the market work it out and the food and service will speak for itself. There's plenty of room for everyone.
            • Please
              I am a big fan of Martha. She has grown a very nice business. This lawsuit is silly though. You can't copyright pizza and style. I assume that Martha did not design, create, and maker her own chairs and tables. She purchased them from someone.
            • Copy Cat!
              Imitation is the best form of flattery unless someone is trying to steal your hard earned work. Don't worry Martha, I won't be visiting Crust and will tell everyone I know to stay clear!
            • What taxpayer money?
              How is Ms Hoover "wasting taxpayer money" by filing a private lawsuit?
              • tried both
                I've tried both. More creative at Nap. Crust more of a hybrid of traditional and Neopolitan. I'd have no trouble telling th e two apart. Given this suit, though, I won't be returning to anything in the Patachou empire. Also, since the downtown location doesn't look or feel like the original location, how can Nap claim a signature look?
              • Plagiarism
                pla·gia·rism ˈplājəˌrizəm/ noun noun: plagiarism; plural noun: plagiarisms 1.the practice of taking someone else's work or ideas and passing them off as one's own. synonyms: copying, infringement of copyright, piracy, theft, stealing;
              • Yep, Yelp it.
                I took the other posters comment about Yelp and went to see for myself. Picture #4 is pretty much a replica of Napolese, right down to the water bottle.
              • Stoopid
                I didn't realize Martha had exclusive rights to pizza in the style of Napoli. The logos look nothing alike, the interior for Martha's is not so unique to qualify as her brand. The argument she is trying to make is akin to McDonald's suing Burger King for having booths and a play area. Her pizza is better than crust. Quit while you're ahead, Martha.
              • Oy Vey
                Isn't it wonderful that Martha Hoover can use the advice and/or counsel of her husband, a partner at Ice Miller, to sue someone for opening a restaurant. Nice to see that she gets free or extremely discounted legal fees but the owner of this business will have to pay full rates to try to stop her suit. That is the real crime in all of this.
              • How can she know?
                How can Ms. Hoover possibly base a lawsuit on a place she has never seen???
              • ????
                Come on, IBJ. "plagiarism" and "likeness"? #wrongterms On another note, I can't wait to read the complaint to understand how Ms. Hoover pleaded facts of "forgery".
                • DUM DUM DA DUM
                  We have reached a new level of stupid
                • YES TO MARTHA!!!
                  She has built a very special establishment - Napolese and the Wine bar is my very favorite place to eat in this city- I love everything about the vibe, the menu the look - this is hers to protect and I agree 100% she has every right to avoid customer confusion. People have even asked me if they were connected. Every person has the right to have their own business however this concept and look is being copied and it is just plain wrong.
                • Crust
                  Crust's pizza is aweful,even if Martha does not win, they will be out of business soon enough.
                • Too much coincidence
                  Crust's interiors also look a lot like Black Acre's and Union Brewing. Of course, they are not selling pizza... I wouldn't want to face Martha Hoover in a courtroom. She's worked too hard to build her brand to not protect it.
                • Come on Martha! Quit wasting taxpayer money!
                  Need I say more?
                  • Seating
                    I can tell you one huge difference between Napolese and Crust. At Crust, they don't pack you in your seats and tables like you are flying coach on Spirit Air. Napolese at Keystone Mall has way too many seats/tables for such a small location. To be honest, I enjoyed Crust more than my multiple times at Napolese - but would rate both higher than Pizzology. All are certainly a step above the normal pizza chains that have infected every corner of Indiana. Industrial style restaurant seating might be new in Indianapolis - but it's been around now for many years.
                  • Yelp Evidence
                    This is blatant trademark infringement. Look at the 4th picture on Yelp for Crust Pizzeria and tell me the table setting, which is part of the brand, is not a copy of Napolese. I'm all for competition especially in pizza, but I don't think an injunction is unreasonable in this case. Also, hat’s off to Bob for the McDowells reference.
                  • Yes and no...
                    Yes, the logos are similar enough (and the interior design is identical) to be confusing to consumers, but there are also trends in restaurants just like fashion. Plus, certain styles of restaurants (sushi, pizza, steakhouse) have built-in expectations for look and feel. It's not like he called the place Mapolese with a big M logo...
                  • Go Martha!
                    Martha has worked very hard to build her empire and has every right to protect her trademarks and trade dress. It's about integrity. Crust is simply mimicking Martha's talents. I say good for her! Go Martha!!
                    • What else do they copy?
                      Do they also over-charge for mediocre food?
                    • Re: Waste of Court Time
                      I think Martha has every right to try and stop someone from profiting off of her design and product. No she didn't invent pizza, but she did invent her brand and should protect it. If I went and opened a Shake & Steak don't you think that Steak n' Shake would want to prevent me from taking advantage of what they built? Crust just needs to seperate itself and let their product stand on its own instead of trying to duplicate the success of Napolese. They are in a good location and it's pizza, they don't need to copy anyone. And for the record, I'm not a homer for Martha... Pizzaology is my favorite in town.
                    • silly...
                      I see one logo with an "N' and another with the word "CRUST". What is so similar. So the interior might be similar, what's the big problem?
                    • McDowells
                      " We both got two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles and onions, but their buns have sesame seeds. My buns don't have sesame seeds."
                    • Really?
                      Martha Dear...Maybe there is a pizza joint in Naples that will want to sue you for ripping off their trade dress!
                    • old habits
                      Wasn't she an attorney prior to Patachou?
                    • waste of court time
                      Did Martha Hoover invent pizza? How greedy can one person be to try and block someone from entering a free market place? People like her proliferate unnecessary court proceedings. Competition is part of business, just keep your own house in order and your business will be fine. She is obviously intimidated by this one other store and is going to try litigate them away instead of offering a better product. Pitiful.

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                      1. why oh why does this state continue to elect these people....do you wonder how much was graft out of the 3.8 billion?

                      2. i too think this is a great idea. I think the vision and need is there as well. But also agree with Wendy that there may be better location in our city to fulfill this vision and help grow the sports of hockey and figure skating in Indy. Also to help further develop other parts of the city that seem often forgotten. Any of the other 6 townships out side of the three northernmost could benefit greatly from a facility and a vision like this. For a vision that sounds philanthropic, the location is appears more about the money. Would really like to see it elsewhere, but still wish the development the best of luck, as we can always use more ice in the city. As for the Ice growth when they return, if schedules can be coordinated with the Fuel, what could be better than to have high level hockey available to go see every weekend of the season? Good luck with the development and the return of the Ice.

                      3. How many parking spaces do they have at Ironworks? Will residents have reserved spaces or will they have to troll for a space among the people that are there at Ruth Chris & Sangiovese?

                      4. You do not get speeding ticket first time you speed and this is not first time Mr.Page has speed. One act should not define a man and this one act won't. He got off with a slap on the wrist. I agree with judge no person was injured by his actions. The state was robbed of money by paying too much rent for a building and that money could have been used for social services. The Page family maybe "generous" with their money but for most part all of it is dirty money that he obtained for sources that are not on the upright. Page is the kind of lawyer that gives lawyers a bad name. He paid off this judge like he has many other tine and walked away. Does he still have his license. I believe so. Hire him to get you confiscated drug money back. He will. It will cost you.

                      5. I remain amazed at the level of expertise of the average Internet Television Executive. Obviously they have all the answers and know the business inside and out.