- Associated Press - Thursday, September 23, 2010

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Owners of the Hard Rock Cafe restaurant chain are suing owners of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas over its name, saying the casino’s party image has damaged the moniker enough to justify ending a 14-year-old licensing agreement.

Lawyers for Orlando-based Hard Rock Cafe International Inc. said in the lawsuit filed Tuesday in federal court in New York that the cable reality show “Rehab: Party at the Hard Rock Hotel” on truTV casts its brand in a bad light.

The 110-page lawsuit including exhibits says the show portrays the hotel-casino as a place that “revels in drunken debauchery, acts of vandalism, sexual harassment, violence, criminality and a host of other behavior” that most people would find offensive, including patrons of Hard Rock restaurants.

A spokeswoman for the hotel did not immediately return a message Thursday from The Associated Press.

The hotel is owned by Morgans Hotel Group Co., a company that is entirely separate from the cafe chain.

Hard Rock Cafe agreed to let the hotel use its name, but now wants to rescind the deal.

If the restaurant chain wins its lawsuit, the hotel-casino would be forced to change its name and brand, which have been central to its strategy of marketing to music lovers and others who know the Hard Rock name.

The cafe owners said in the lawsuit that the casino’s pool parties, which are also titled “Rehab,” have been associated with criminal activity, damaging the Hard Rock name.

Las Vegas police arrested eight people at the pool in 2009, accusing them of distributing drugs or offering sex for money. The bust was part of a larger enforcement focus on pool parties in Las Vegas. Hotel officials said at the time that they complied with authorities.

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