E. Mono accuse Mono Wraps of trademark violation
A kebab shop praised by Times food critic Giles Coren has accused neighbouring rivals in north London of misleadingly piggybacking off its reputation.
Award-winning E. Mono in Kentish Town has issued a legal letter to Mono Wraps in Holloway charging it with trademark infringement.
The letter expects Mono Wraps to change its business name and logo sign while removing any references to E. Mono on social media or any online delivery platforms.
Mono Wraps has also been asked to clarify any steps it will be taking in order to ensure that no further infringements occur.
E. Mono’s Ali Celebi has told FtLion that Mono Wraps is ruining their reputation by copying their signage while misleadingly displaying Giles Coren’s positive review article of his restaurant.
Who were the original owners of E. Mono?
Mono Wraps’ Michael Ustun denies the allegations maintaining that he, his son Ozan Ustun and his cousin Celal Ustun were originally behind E. Mono before being “double-crossed”.
Not only has he accused the current owners of trademarking the name behind his back, but also said that Ozan was one of E. Mono’s original owners.
Michael alleges: “E. Mono started in Kentish Town. Me and my son started [it] in 2011. In 2013, we started one in Finsbury Park.
“Then in 2015, we started one in Camden Town as E. Mono. In 2015, my son sold his share to these new guys, which I’ve never seen their faces. Unfortunately, they double-crossed me. They nicked the name behind my back.”
But Ali disagrees stating that “Michael has never owned E. Mono,” insisting instead: “We bought the business in 2015 with the name and leasehold. This Michael guy was never part of the ownership [sic].”
In a tenancy agreement drawn up in 2011 and seen by FtLion, Ozan Ustun is named as the leaseholder of the property in question on Kentish Town Road.
According to Companies House website, while Celal was appointed Director of the branch later in 2014, the current owners – Director Muslum Kizilkaya and Secretary Ali Celebi – were appointed in December 2018.
E. Mono has not responded to requests by FtLion for evidence corroborating Kizilkaya’s and/ or Celebi’s ownership from 2015.
Michael also points to the now famous article of Giles Coren as evidence of his involvement, wherein the food critic crucially notes: “The owner, Michael, whose dad was in the kebab business for 54 years, is determined to turn round the reputation of kebabs in this country, and makes all his kebabs on site.”
A second editorial published a year later in 2012 on Ham & High news website has a picture of Michael’s son Jibril (wrongly cited as Michael Ustun) proudly holding up Coren’s article (Jibril is also said to be visible in a picture from Coren’s editorial).
Again Michael’s role in running the restaurant is alluded to in a piece written by Praneel Lal for the Weekend Notes in 2014 who highlights: “Next time you find yourself in Kentish Town, pop into E. Mono, Michael and his team have successfully turned around the reputation of the night time kebab with their quality creations.”
There is also an interview conducted by Turkish television channel Londra Aktuel where Michael is introduced as the owner of E. Mono’s third site in Camden which opened in 2015 before being sold.
The surprise rediscovery of E. Mono’s original signage
The origin of the E. Mono signage actually dates back to the early 20th century and only came to light during renovation carried out on the newly purchased premises back in 2011.
Michael recalls: “In 2010 in Kentish Town, I was going to call it a different name. This sign came out [in] immaculate condition. There were another two more signs on top of E. Mono.
“When E. Mono came out as a sign, it was beautiful. So we done some work on it to do [it] nicely, and then researched to see if we can use the sign or not. People who work for Camden council, they’ve done the research themselves, and said ‘Michael you can use the name’.”
Writing for the digital magazine, History Workshop, journalist and historian Andrew Whitehead chronicled about the rediscovery of the shop fascia.
He records: “Last year , Cafe Brassino on Kentish Town Road – a greasy spoon type of place as far as I can make out – closed down. As the building was being refitted as a kebab shop, an elegant handpainted shop sign, probably from the 1920s, came to light.”
Michael also said that sometime before Kentish Town’s E. Mono was sold in 2015, a second E. Mono branch was launched in 2013 at Finsbury Park which he added is currently run by Celal.
In an article titled ‘E. Mono in North London‘ and published on his blogsite Ghostsigns Blogger, Sam Roberts wrote about the opening of this shop as early as February 2015.
Comparing pictures of the two branches at the time, he observed: “I recently passed through Finsbury Park Station and noticed that a new branch has been opened. Business for E.Mono has clearly been going well, perhaps in light of rave reviews for the Kentish Town branch.
“Here are some photos documenting these more recent efforts to replicate the lettering, juxtaposed with some contextual photos of the original shop and sign. The next branch is apparently set to open in Luton so we’ll see how the signage evolves there…”
As for Ali’s trademark registration for a “Representation of Mark”, then this was not approved until three years after the opening of the Finsbury Park branch in 2018 which was seven years after the discovery of the original E. Mono fascia.
But for Michael, the writing appears to be on the wall: “I was using E. Mono. But now, I can’t use E. Mono. I’m trading now as Mono Wraps.”
As for the immediate future, then Michael is waiting for his day in court. “I’m waiting for them to take me to court so I can explain myself clearly and get this thing over [with] once and for all.”
With three generations of his family said to be specialising in the kebab trade, Michael vows to continue doing what he has done for the better part of his life.
“I’m more than 50 years old and I’ve been doing this for the past 50 years. And so it runs in the family,” Michael muses, before concluding: “Literally I was born in this business. Before me it was my father Kazim Ustun, and now my sons are carrying [it] on.”