Klein & Wilson

In-N-Out Burger files trademark suit to protect its brand

In today’s marketplace, competition among burger chains involves more than just McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s. Upstart chains such as Smashburger, Shake Shack and Burger Burger are providing stiff competition to fast food stalwarts. Like other fast food options, name recognition is critical, which is why hamburger franchise In-N-Out Burger has staunchly defended its brand names.

The Southern California based franchise boasts a following that its rivals envy, and it has built its reputation in part by establishing trademarks for a number of its burgers. According to a recent ocregister.com report, In-N-Out established trademarks on its “Double Double” and “Triple Triple” burgers in the 1960’s.

So when rival burger chain SmashBurger introduced its “Triple Double” burger in conjunction with the franchise’s 10th anniversary, In-N-Out moved quickly to defend its brand. It filed a trademark  infringement lawsuit against SmashBurger claiming that the Triple Double is too similar and could be confused with In-N-Out’s offering. 

While the ocregister.com report was unclear on the specific remedies In-N-Out seeks, it likely will seek an injunction barring SmashBurger from using the name “Triple Double” as well as statutory damages stemming from profits realized by from the name. It remains to be seen whether In-N-Out will prevail, but the story is an example of why experienced legal counsel is necessary when a lawsuit is filed challenging a company’s use of a particular trade name.

If you believe a company is infringing upon a trademark you have established, or if you are accused of infringement, an experienced trademark law attorney can advise you. 

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