• June 1, 2015
Construction is scheduled to begin this summer on a new Country Inns and Suites Hotel with 172 rooms near Disneyland.

Drawing of a Proposed Country Inns and Suites Hotel.

You’re on the road. You’re tired. It is time to check in somewhere, get a good night’s sleep, and start the drive fresh tomorrow morning.

Is there ever a time when having a trusted brand is worth more than the roadside hotel (or restaurant)? The vast majority of prospective customers of “on-the-highway hotels” (or customers of “business hotels,” in contrast to “resort hotels” or “destination hotels”) undoubtedly develop brand allegiance and make their purchase decisions based on that (and price (for which brand is a dependable indicator)).

You see that Country Inns & Suites by Carlson logo, for example, and, Carlson hopes, you can almost already smell the fresh sheets, the immaculate rooms, the helpful staff, the across-the-brand uniform high quality and on and on.

By the same token, bleary-eyed and feeling vulnerable out in the middle of nowhere, you might hesitate before checking in at “Hotel Patel.” Maybe it’s a great place. Maybe it’s a great bargain, a hidden gem. But many of us are creatures of habit, most of us are conservative when it comes to trusting strangers to give us a safe, clean place to sleep, and we want the comfort of familiarity.

So, if you’re hotel owners 3 AM LLC, Kiran Patel, and Manjula Patel, you might be tempted to use Country Inns & Suites by Carlson logo, signage, and so on, even if you do not have the legal right to do so.

That would be a mistake. 3 AM LLC, Kiran Patel, and Manjula Patel have gotten themselves sued by Carlson and, worse, now have been subject to an order for contempt due to their failure to take down their signage even though U.S. District Court Chief Judge Michael J. Davis (D. Minn.) ordered them to do so.

But, to me, the most interesting aspect of the Court’s recent order is that it sets out the actual mechanics of how a federal judge in Minnesota can compel the removal of signage in a hotel in Maryland. Think about it. What’s the Court to do? It is not as if we have Court Soldiers, right?

As set out in the order for contempt, the Court first sets out a daily fine which presumably gives the defendants an incentive to take the infringing materials down themselves as soon as possible. Alternately, the order provides that Carlson can send someone onto the hotel premises to do the job accompanied by a U.S. Marshal for the District of Maryland (so, I guess you might say we do have Court Soldiers in a way?) or the sheriff of Prince George County.

I wonder where the Carlson employee will spend the night if he or she is forced to make the trip to dismantle signage at Hotel Patel…

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