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The battle of Chow vs. Chow heats up; celebrity lawyer (and Mr. Chow regular) Bert Fields enters the fray

September 25, 2009 | 11:43 am

Philippe

Michael Chow, a.k.a. Mr. Chow, has tapped celebrity lawyer Bertram Fields in his ongoing campaign against former restaurant employee Philippe Chow. Just as Philippe Chow is about to open his first L.A. restaurant in West Hollywood, Michael Chow has slapped him with another lawsuit, this time in Los Angeles Superior Court.

Michael Chow already had filed a suit against the chain of Philippe restaurants in July in Miami federal court. Both lawsuits allege that Chak Yam Chau, who now goes by Philippe Chow, has deceived consumers by falsely using the Chow name to promote restaurants that "imitate" the Mr. Chow restaurants.

The Los Angeles suit, besides repeating accusations of copied dishes (including Mr. Chow's "famous satay sauce") and improper use of sponsored Web links, also alleges kitchen espionage and harassment, citing a glass door that was "'mysteriously' and deliberately smashed" recently at the Beverly Hills Mr. Chow. 

"We are not going to make any further comments as these are all redundant (delusional) accusations to the Miami suit and nothing to add to," wrote Stratis Morfogen, a Philippe restaurant partner named in the suits, in an e-mail to The Times.

As with the Miami lawsuit, Michael Chow is seeking more than $10 million in damages, according to the Los Angeles filing.

"My friends and I have enjoyed dining at Mr. Chow’s for many years," says Fields, who has represented the likes of Tom Cruise and Joel Silver. "Many of us entertain there .... So I’m personally affronted when this former food chopper and his cynical backers try to make money by imitating everything Mr. Chow does."

Morfogen had called the Miami lawsuit meritless. A motion to dismiss was filed in Miami federal court in July.

Michael Chow founded the chain of famous Mr. Chow restaurants in 1968 in London, followed by restaurants in New York and Beverly Hills. Philippe Chow worked for Mr. Chow for more than 25 years in New York before starting his own chain of Philippe restaurants there in 2005. His Los Angeles restaurant is set to open next month. Both have expanded to Miami and have plans for restaurants in Las Vegas.

-- Betty Hallock

Photo: Philippe restaurant in Miami. Credit: Philippe

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