MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The historic Hotel Morgan has been a fixture in downtown Morgantown for 86 years, but its lawyers say it's now being confused with a less prestigious establishment that has ripped off its name.
The Hotel Morgan filed a trademark infringement and false advertising lawsuit Thursday in U.S. District Court in Clarksburg against the owners of the similar-sounding Hotel Morgantown.
But owner Himanshu Bhatia said Friday there are no legal grounds to sue him, and he contends the full names of the properties aren't very similar. The downtown property now clearly labeled and marketed as the Clarion Hotel Morgan, he said, can't possibly be confused with his Hotel Morgantown & Conference Center near Star City.
"Morgantown is a town. It's not a proprietary name," Bhatia said. "We don't have any guests calling us saying, 'Are you Hotel Morgan?' And if they do, we say we are not. ... We are not confusing any customer."
Bhatia lives in New York City but has had businesses and friends in Morgantown for many years, including the Morgantown Motel on U.S. 119.
"Nobody's ever challenged that one," he said. "I'm in love with Morgantown, so what's wrong with it?"
Since 1925, the Hotel Morgan on High Street has hosted major events, from weddings, proms and conferences to politicians' election-night celebrations.
In the complaint, attorney Charles Wise says the Hotel Morgan underwent a major and costly renovation in 1999, and remains a brand that is "distinctive, strong and famous."