- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 16, 2010

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Owners of the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas say a federal lawsuit filed by the Hard Rock Cafe chain over their shared name is hurting their bottom line in Nevada and other states.

The counterclaim filed last week in federal court in New York also alleges the restaurant chain has interfered with Morgans Hotel Group’s business dealings in a breach of contract.

“The (Las Vegas) Hard Rock defendants have done nothing wrong and, in fact, are victims of systematic legal and business harassment by the cafe,” the court filing states.

Attorneys for the Las Vegas resort claim the restaurant chain has tried to persuade potential partners not to do business with the hotel owners, according to court documents.

Amanda Early, a spokeswoman for the Hard Rock Cafe, said the company will respond to the allegations in future court filings.

“We have reviewed the counterclaims asserted against our company and believe that they are without merit,” she said.

The hotel-casino that promotes a rock-and-roll lifestyle is entirely separate from the cafe chain known for its classic American cuisine and music memorabilia displays. Hard Rock Cafe agreed to let the hotel use its name under a 1996 agreement.

The legal tussle started in September when the restaurant chain filed its lawsuit seeking to end the 14-year-old licensing agreement.

The 110-page lawsuit focused on the cable reality show “Rehab: Party at the Hard Rock Hotel,” that showcases the festive and sometimes violent atmosphere at the hotel’s popular pool party. The restaurant chain claimed “Rehab” depicts unprofessional, abusive staff members who are incompetent and offensive to average Hard Rock Cafe customers.

Las Vegas police arrested eight people at the pool in 2009, accusing them of handling drugs or offering sex for money.

The restaurant chain’s lawsuit claims hotel officials promised to address objections to the show after the first two seasons aired, but the third season “continues to depict the same offensive and depraved conduct.”

The chain said it received even more complaints after the first episode of the show’s third season aired.

In its counterclaim, Morgans Hotel Group said its televised pool parties have brought positive attention to the Hard Rock brand.

“The Cafe claims to be shocked and disturbed by the popular reality television show ‘Rehab: Party at the Hard Rock Hotel,’ filmed at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Las Vegas, despite the fact that this show and the lively behavior it portrays have already been on the air for two years,” reads the court document.

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