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Landmark Southern California wedding chapel sues Malibu competitor for trademark infringement

The chapel designed by Frank Lloyd Wright Jr. alleges that its unique design has been misappropriated by a wedding venue 60 miles up the coast.

LOS ANGELES (CN) — A landmark Southern California church and wedding venue sued its competitor up the coast in Malibu for allegedly stealing its trademark architectural design, including walls made of glass filling spaces between arched gabled trusses and supports.

Wayfarers Chapel in Palos Verdes, California, filed a complaint Wednesday in federal court in LA, accusing Calamigos Ranch in Malibu of trademark and trade dress infringement.

"Defendants intentionally copied Wayfarers Chapel’s chapel design in creating and designing its own Oak Room," the General Convention of the New Jerusalem in the United States of America, the church's owner, said in the complaint. "The similarities and near-identical nature of the trade dress configurations and 'packaging' are undeniable."

Representatives of Calamigos Ranch didn't immediately respond to a request for comment after regular business hours.

Wayfarers Chapel, also known as the Glass Church, was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright Jr., son of Frank Lloyd Wright, in the late 1940s. The site nestled among redwood trees above the Pacific Ocean was nominated as a National Historic Landmark last year, and if approved would join the likes of other notable Southern California landmarks such as the Rose Bowl and the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

The chapel is part of the Swedenborgian Church of North America, and as well as a being a sought after wedding venue, has featured in numerous television shows and movies, such as "The O.C." and "90210."

Wayfarers Chapel's unique design, according to the complaint, includes the circular section of the glass back wall, the arched gabled trusses and supports on the interior of the chapel, walls made of glass filling the spaces between the gables and supports, and the “Y”-shaped mullions which divide the glass walls between the supports into four sections.

The chapel said it has also incorporated these trademark architectural designs in its logo, which it uses to market its services.

Calamigos Ranch's alleged use of a similar design for its Oaks Room wedding venue amounts to unfairly competition, according to Wayfarers Chapel, and is intended to steal its business.

For example, the Sam Adams "Your Cousin from Boston" beer commercial was filmed at Calamigos Ranch, but prompted inquiries from people who wrongly associated it with Wayfarers Chapel, according to the complaint.

Wayfarers Chapel accuses Calamigos Ranch of trademark and trade dress infringement and of unfair competition.

The venue seeks seeks a permanent injunction, and the recovery of actual damages, statutory damages, treble damages, profits, costs, attorneys’ fees and punitive damages.

Wayfarers Chapel is represented by Theodore W. Chandler of Baker Botts LLP in Los Angeles.

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