HILLSBORO, Ore. -- When Andre Jehan, owner of Hillsboro, Ore.-based Pizza Schmizza, set out to expand his 12-store pizza company into California, he found that a pizza company with a similar name already existed in Santa Barbara.
According to The Oregonian, the spelling was slightly different -- Pizza Shmizza, sans "c" -- but it wasn't different enough for Jehan, who holds a registered U.S. patent for Pizza Schmizza.
Jehan learned about the California Shmizza company about two months ago and went online to see the company's Web site.
"This shiver ran through my body," Jehan told the paper. "I thought maybe someone had trademarked it before me."
For the 40-year-old Jehan, the name Pizza Schmizza has special meaning. When he told his father he was starting the company, his comment was an unenthusiastic, "Pizza schmizza." The first store opened under that name in 1993.
Several years ago, Sean Ebadi and Brendan Searls opened a video store in Santa Barbara called Video Shmideo. So when they later started a business that delivered groceries, videos, DVDs and pizza, Pizza Shmizza seemed logical.
The men searched California records for a trademark on the name, but didn't search nationally.
Jehan called the men last April to discuss the moniker mix-up.
"We took it in stride," said Ebadi, after receiving a letter from Pizza Schmizza. "They've been pretty cool to us."
Jehan said he feels "a little like The Man" for making Ebadi and Searls change their company's name, but since he wants to expand his company internationally, he knew he had to. Franchisee inquiries, he said, have come from as far away as Sapporo, Japan.