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Toby Keith Licensee Doesn’t Love Ex-CFO

PHOENIX (CN) - A company with licensing rights for country music star Toby Keith's I Love This Bar and Grill restaurants claims in court that its former CFO stole trade secrets to get a licensing agreement with Rascal Flatts Entertainment to open a similar, competing restaurant chain.

Boomtown Entertainment sued Broken Road Productions, Rascal Flatts Restaurant Group, Rascal Flatts Entertainment and Philip J. Lama, in Federal Court.

Boomtown claims it has a licensing agreement with (nonparty) Toby Keith, under which it runs 10 "I Love This Bar and Grill" restaurants.

It claims that in July and August 2012 it heard that Philip Lama, its former consulting chief financial officer, "had obtained a license from country music group Rascal Flatts which would allow him to use their name to open up a group of country music themed restaurants known as Rascal Flatts American Bar & Grill."

Boomtown says in the complaint that Lama "acquired confidential information pertaining to plaintiff's business model, including several key issues which were used by Boomtown in order to successfully open and operate the Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grill restaurants."

"These key issues included, but are not limited to, the royalty percentage paid to the country music artist; the participation of the country music artist; how to handle 'comps;' the details of the retail sales aspect of the restaurant; and the approval process of certain locations and potential locations for future restaurants," according to the complaint.

Boomtown claims Lama signed a confidentiality agreement in December 2010, and worked for it from December 2010 to March 2011, and from May 2011 to September 2011.

It claims that the defendants "created and posted designs for the new Rascal Flatts restaurants which contain essentially the same style, layout, theme, and design of Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grill restaurants operated by plaintiff."

Boomtown claims that (nonparty) Gary LeVox, lead singer for Rascal Flatts, told the Arizona Republic "that they would be opening up 'a nationwide chain of eleven restaurants called the Rascal Flatts American Bar & Grill ... [and that] they are working with Valley restaurant industry executives Philip Lama and Eric Soe to open the first location; all eleven will have a stage for live entertainment, much like Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grill.'"

Boomtown seeks an injunction against trademark violations.

It is represented by Neal Thomas, with Thomas Thomas & Markson.

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