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FOUNDER OF HARD ROCK CAFE SUES RANK ORGANIZATION AND PLANET HOLLYWOOD FOR MISAPPROPRIATION OF TRADE SECRETS

 FOUNDER OF HARD ROCK CAFE SUES RANK ORGANIZATION AND
 PLANET HOLLYWOOD FOR MISAPPROPRIATION OF TRADE SECRETS
 LOS ANGELES, Jan. 30 /PRNewswire/ -- Peter A. Morton, the co-founder of the Hard Rock Cafe, and investors in Morton's Hard Rock Cafes (Hard Rock Investors Ltd., et al) today filed suit against the Rank Organization, PLC (a United Kingdom corporation), Planet Hollywood, Inc. and others charging them with conspiring together to coerce and force Morton and his associated entities to sell to Rank et al their entire Hard Rock interests at a price far below their fair market value.
 According to the complaint, which was filed today in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, "The tactics and methods employed by Rank and its co-conspirators to accomplish that end include, among others, the creation of a chain of highly publicized entertainment/music themed restaurants presently named "Planet Hollywood" similar to but of substantially lower quality than the Hard Rock Cafes and the threat to open such inferior quality entertainment/music themed restaurants wherever plaintiffs operate a Hard Rock Cafe in order to devalue the unique Hard Rock Cafe concept, lower the profitability and value of (the Morton) businesses and coerce and force (the Morton) businesses to sell their interests to Rank."
 The suit also names individually Michael B. Gifford, managing director and chief executive officer of Rank and Robert Earl, a Rank officer and the CEO of Rank's Hard Rock International operation. Earl is also the organizer and developer of Planet Hollywood. He also serves as a director and officer of the Hard Rock Licensing Corp., a venture created by Morton and a predecessor of Hard Rock International.
 The suit alleges, among other things, that Rank in attempting to devalue the Hard Rock concept by establishing the "knock-off" Planet Hollywood restaurants, used proprietary Hard Rock marketing, financial and operating strategies and methods. The suit further charges that Earl breached his fiduciary duty to the Hard Rock Licensing Corporation by helping to plan, organize and create the competitive Planet Hollywood restaurants.
 The suit further alleges that as a direct and proximate result of Rank's acts of unfair competition, Rank and its co-defendants will be unjustly enriched in a very substantial sum as yet unknown but which plaintiffs are informed and believed will exceed $250 million. Morton et al are seeking to recover that sum which would be trebled to $750 million by reason of violation of U.S. Anti trust laws.
 Morton et al are also seeking punitive damages in the sum of $500 million. Other damages, that might be awarded under California law, could amount to an additional $100 million which would be trebled to $300 million by reason of violation of California Anti trust law.
 This suit is also seeking a preliminary injunction restraining and enjoining each defendant from all acts and practices in violation of applicable statutes.
 -0- 1/30/92
 /CONTACT: Jeremy Weithas of Kekst & Co., 212-593-2655, for Hard Rock Cafes/ CO: Hard Rock Cafes; Rank Organization, PLC ST: California IN: LEI SU:


SH-OS -- NY091 -- 5375 01/30/92 15:28 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jan 30, 1992
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