Tom Fisher wants his name back.
The proprietor of Club 41 in Post Falls - at the intersection of Highway 41 and Mullan Avenue - owned T.W. Fisher's in Coeur d'Alene, a popular brew pub, for about 12 years. He had planned to resurrect the T.W. Fisher name at Club 41, creating new signage and advertisements.
About a month ago, on the side of a white truck parked near the bar, he hung "TW Fishers Club 41" in black letters.
In response, Sullivan Stromberg, PLLC, a Spokane law firm, mailed Fisher two letters last week. He was ordered to stop using the name or face a lawsuit.
"I've turned it over to a lawyer," Fisher said. "Sad, in this day and age."
W.S. Hospitality, LLC, bought the brewery portion of T.W. Fisher's in 1999, then purchased the pub next door in 2002. The building became the Coeur d'Alene Brewing Company, which remained at the corner of Lakeside and Second streets until last fall.
During the 2002 transaction, Fisher signed over the rights to his nickname, "T.W. Fisher," and any variations of that name. The deal is still in effect, prohibiting Fisher from using the "T.W." moniker.
"Tom Fisher sold his brewery and restaurant businesses to WS Hospitality, LLC, including the rights to the name 'T.W. Fisher' for any hospitality related business," Gage Stromberg, co-owner of the Coeur d'Alene Brewing Company, wrote in an e-mail. "Since he cashed the check a long time ago, we expect Tom to live with his deal or offer to buy back the rights he sold to us."
Fisher said before he opened Club 41 in January 2010, he had asked for the Brewing Company's permission to use the nickname. It had been several years since he sold T.W. Fisher's, he had reasoned, and Club 41 was in Post Falls, not Coeur d'Alene.
"They said absolutely not," Fisher recalled. "Now, they're coming after me on something nine years ago that they never, ever used. It's just a neighborhood bar. In a different town. Nine years later."
Over the weekend, a sign Fisher ordered before he received the legal letters was installed at Club 41. He placed a black X across the words "T.W. Fisher's," he said.
Fisher said he isn't sure what he will do now, but he will confer with his lawyer and consider the options.
Stromberg said the original sale agreement was explicit.
"Tom and we agreed there was value to the name, which we (WS Hospitality) bought," he wrote. "The language isn't ambiguous or unclear. I'm pretty sure that after I sell my car I can't take it back out of the buyer's garage and use it when I want, and the same is true here."