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Benjamin Spillman

Lawsuit filed against Elad Group

10 August 2007

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- Guests of the Plaza in downtown Las Vegas shouldn't expect accommodations for a butler or formal afternoon tea service with their room.

But they can count on cheap booze, bottom-dollar gambling and easy access to a Greyhound bus terminal that's attached to the casino at the west end of the Fremont Street Experience.

It's a hard-won reputation for value, one the Plaza's owners want to protect when the company that owns the posh Plaza in New York City opens a $5 billion version of their butler-hosting, tea-providing hotel on the Strip.

That's why Tamares Las Vegas Properties filed a complaint Thursday in Clark County District Court to block Elad Group of New York from using the Plaza name in Sin City.

"We cannot and will not stand by and watch our trademark rights ignored, our good will and reputation poached and our patrons confused by a newcomer to Las Vegas looking to appropriate our name," said Harry Braunstein, general counsel for the Tamares Group.

Elad, controlled by Israeli investor Yitzchak Tshuva, bought the New Frontier in May for $1.2 billion and announced plans for a Plaza in Las Vegas by 2011.

At the time, Elad officials brushed off concerns about the existing Plaza in remarks to The Wall Street Journal. The purchase price of the Frontier, a record for Strip property, overshadowed talk of a possible trademark infringement.

Now Tamares, which bought the 36-year-old downtown Plaza in 2004, is bringing it up in court.

In a 15-page filing, Tamares cites six Nevada trademarks for variations of the Plaza name for use with the casino, hotel, bar and restaurants.

It also describes decades of good will between the Plaza and its customers.

"This commercial magnetism has been reinforced by the distinctive neon PLAZA signage displayed in connection with the hotel and casino in Las Vegas," the lawsuit says.

Lloyd Kaplan, a spokesman for Elad, said it was too early to comment on the lawsuit.

"We haven't even been served yet," Kaplan said. "What we have to say about the lawsuit is we haven't had an opportunity to look at the papers and haven't got a comment at this time."

The Tamares lawsuit goes on to say Elad is "perfectly poised to destroy," business at the downtown Las Vegas hotel.