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Lefty’s landlord, owner fight over who owns iconic restaurant’s trademark

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Lefty O’Doul’s has been a Union Square staple for decades. (Gabrielle Lurie/2015 Special to S.F. Examiner)

The owner of the iconic Lefty O’Doul’s and his attorneys are ready to lay to rest disputes over their rights to the restaurant’s name and legacy at a 2 p.m. news conference today.

Attorneys of Nick Bovis are expected to further detail his rights to the ownership and legacy of the iconic Lefty O’Douls, after days of claims from the restaurant’s landlord, Jon Handlery, that his family owns the rights due to the restaurant’s decades of tenancy.

On Sunday, Bovis’ spokesperson Lee Houskeeper declined to respond to Handlery’s allegations and said, “It will all be addressed definitively tomorrow.”

Representatives of Lefty’s are also expected to provide further details on the restaurant’s new home.

The dispute over the restaurant’s ownership began Thursday, when Bovis announced the baseball-themed hofbrau would move once its lease was up on Feb. 3. The restaurant, named for legendary San Francisco baseball player and coach Lefty O’Doul, opened in 1958.

Following announcement of the move, Sam Singer, a spokesperson for the Handlery’s, claimed that Handlery, Bovis’ landlord, owns the restaurant rights and would continue to run it at its location near Union Square.

“The Handlery’s own all the memorabilia, all the chairs and the legendary location. We’re going to operate our restaurant,” Singer told the San Francisco Examiner on Sunday.

Bovis’ company JGX Inc., however, owns the trademark to Lefty O’Doul’s, according to the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Responding to that trademark ownership, Singer said “I know they claim that, but we believe that’s in dispute.”

Singer did not reveal any legal dispute or other ongoing litigation. Handlery’s claim over the memorabilia is a striking one, insiders close to the issue said, given their potential value.

Much iconic memorabilia adorns the walls and shelves of Lefty’s, including a Lefty O’Doul Louisville Slugger baseball bat donated to Bovis by retired San Francisco Police Department Capt. Joe Garrity, which the ardent baseball fan had in his collection.

For now, the slugger resides in a glass case in the restaurant.

Bovis and Handlery previously disputed over the Gold Dust bar, another Union Square staple, which Bovis eventually moved to Fisherman’s Wharf.

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