Carnival Cruise Line Slicing Into Pizza Trademark With Lawsuit

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Carnival Cruise Line is being sued by a popular pizza restaurant in Miami and is subsequently countersuing to invalidate the restaurant’s claim.

The lawsuit is all over the naming rights for “Miami Slice” and how it applies to the restaurant versus Carnival Celebration and the pizzeria in the 820 Biscayne neighborhood, also named “Miami Slice.”

Pizza Worth Suing For

Carnival Cruise Line unveiled its 820 Biscayne neighborhood aboard Carnival Celebration in March 2022, months before the new ship debuted. The Miami-themed zone, located on Deck 8, includes the ship’s pizzeria, named “Miami Slice” to keep with the theme and offering the typical Carnival pizza offerings.

“Miami has been our home for 50 years, and in bringing a brand new ship to its port, we wanted to show some extra love to the city that helped us become who we are today,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line, when the new neighborhood was announced.

Carnival Celebration Themed Zone
Rendering Courtesy: Carnival Cruise Line

Part of that real-life neighborhood, however, doesn’t quite love Carnival Cruise Line in return. The artisanal pizzeria Miami Slice, located just 2.5 miles from the cruise terminals of PortMiami, has sued Carnival for trademark infringement, claiming the cruise line has intentionally trampled the restaurant’s hard-won reputation by usurping the name.

“Not only did Carnival intentionally and unlawfully name the Carnival Celebration’s fast casual pizza restaurant ‘Miami Slice,’ Carnival added insult to injury by adopting a confusingly similar market presentation including astonishingly similar all capital lettering and featuring a similar limited menu of five styles of pizza in a quick service format,” the initial lawsuit reads.

The suit was filed in April 2023, and also claims that the similarity in naming, presentation, lettering, and menu offerings will be damaging to the restaurant by becoming “confusingly associated with cruise line food.”

The 183,521-gross ton Carnival Celebration debuted in November 2022 and is homeported from PortMiami, sailing 6-, 7-, and 8-night Eastern, Western, and Southern Caribbean itineraries.

Carnival Countersues

Carnival Cruise Line has now filed a counterclaim, alleging that “Miami” is a style of pizza and as such, the generic term makes the restaurant’s name trademark registration invalid.

According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Carnival claims that Miami-style pizza features a Cuban flavor profile with thicker crust, thin sauce, and both mozzarella and gouda cheese.

Carnival Celebration Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: sallystap / Shutterstock

In fact, the Miami-based The Big Cheese restaurant does serve a “Miami Slice” pizza with ham, ricotta, and pineapple topped with cinnamon (really), and Carnival also provided several other advertisements from different restaurants promoting “Miami-style” pizzas.

Furthermore, the name “Miami Slice” has been used by other companies, including a 6-part Bravo documentary about Miami plastic surgeons and a “Cozy Mysteries” book series.

Comparing the Restaurants

While copyright infringement lawsuits rarely target vastly different businesses that could not possibly be confused for one another, the fact that both the Miami restaurant and the Carnival Celebration eatery are pizza restaurants could lead to some misconceptions about whether or not they are, in fact, affiliated.

Miami Slice, which was founded in 2019, offers New York style slices with artisanal flair. The restaurant only offers five types of pizza: Margherita de la Casa, Pepperoni Proper, La Salsera with vodka sauce and pesto, Leeks on Bacon with garlic confit cream, and Mushroom Truffle.

Carnival Celebration‘s pizza menu offers Margherita, Pepperoni, Quattro Formaggi (four cheese), La Habana with ham and chorizo, and Picadillo with ground beef.

The Miami restaurant is an open-kitchen, bar-style service setting, while the cruise ship’s pizza is a grab-and-go counter with nearby seating.

While it is true that both restaurants have similarities, the same could be said about many other pizza restaurants, as the casual service setting and popular flavors of margherita and pepperoni are common for pizza restaurants worldwide.

Do you think the two restaurants could be confused? Have you enjoyed any slices aboard Carnival Celebration? Share your thoughts on the Cruise Hive boards!

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