(Reuters) - New York City has sued the operators of the bankrupt Tavern on the Green, claiming it has the sole right to use the storied restaurant's name.
In a lawsuit filed on Wednesday, the city valued the trademark for the restaurant in Central Park at $19 million, making it the single largest asset in the bankruptcy estate.
New York is trying to stop the Leroy family, which owns the Tavern on the Green name, from opening or operating other establishments under the same moniker.
The Leroys have said they have owned the trademark since 1978.
Earlier this month, the operators sued New York, seeking more time to auction the restaurant's assets. They have also argued that any new concessionaire could make much more money operating under the "Tavern on the Green" name.
Tavern on the Green filed for bankruptcy protection in September after the city granted a new lease for the property to another restaurateur. The current operators have held a lease since 1974. It expires December 31.
Tucked just inside the park off Central Park West, the restaurant is in a Victorian Gothic building, erected in 1870 to be a sheepfold.
It once housed 200 Southdown sheep that grazed in Central Park's Sheep Meadow. The restaurant also marks the finish line of the annual New York City marathon.
The cases are In re Tavern on the Green Limited Partnership, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York, Nos. 09-1513 and 09-15450.
(Reporting by Santosh Nadgir in Bangalore; editing by Andre Grenon)