June 24, 2013

"So, In-N-Out Burger sent a cease & desist letter to a trendy restaurant in Houston, complaining that their use of 'Double-Double' as a hamburger name infringed on In-N-Out's marks."

"The response? You can now order a 'Cease & Desist Burger.'"

64 comments:

cold pizza said...

So when is Planned Parenthood going to sue the hamburger chain for *their* trademarked slogan: "In-N-Out?" -CP

Brent said...

Out here in Southern California, "don't mess with In-N-Out" is far biiger than "Don't Mess With Texas".

And far more dangerous.

Nathan Alexander said...

Hmm, and here I thought it was Raid's "Kills them Dead" slogan that was an infringement on Planned Parenthood.

Or maybe it was Nike's "Just Do It" that infringed on PP...I never can remember which.

edutcher said...

I thought it might have something to do with Coming Out Day.

fivewheels said...

Is that supposed to be some kind of clever rejoinder to In-N-Out? Because the restaurant clearly was ripping them off. At this point in history, you can't really claim you called your burger a double-double independently. It's a pretty clear reference, and if the burger was similar at all, a clear attempt to cash in on In-N-Out's popularity.

Why not change it to Big Mac and feign victimization again when McDonald's complains?

I Callahan said...

A double-double is rip-off? That's about as generic a name for a burger that I can think of. Comparing that name to Big Mac isn't even a comparison.

Bender said...

You can now order a 'Cease & Desist Burger.'"

Funny.

But putting "Bite Me Burger" on the menu instead would have been funnier.

Larry J said...

Sometimes the little guy wins. From Wikipedia:

When Burger King expanded into the San Antonio area, it was prevented from utilizing the name Whopper in its local advertising and stores due to a prior state registered service mark owned by a local chain known as Whopper Burger. The chain, owned by Frank and Barbara Bates, prevented the company from using the name in Bexar County for several years until Mrs. Bates, the CEO of Whopper Burger after the death of her husband in 1983, retired and sold the chain with its related trademarks to then-corporate parent Pillsbury in the mid-1980s.

Yep, sometimes the little guy wins, and sometimes a person will survive the impact even when his parachute fails to open. The odds are against it, though.

Michael said...

As In-N-Out invades Texas it is imperative that they aggressively protect the names of their offerings. I am not sure that the name of a sandwich is a "mark" in the traditional sense unless an image of said burger is used in their advertising and branding.

Nathan Alexander said...

That's about as generic a name for a burger that I can think of.

Agreed.

Not to mention, there is no overlap between In-and-Out and Houston, TX.

If you had never been to California, and you saw a "Double Double" on a menu somewhere, you wouldn't think of In and Out in a million years.

Hell, I've eaten at an In-and-Out within the last year, and I didn't remember they had a burger called the Double Double.



That being said, I don't think anyone seeing a "Cease and Desist" burger is going to think of In-and-Out, either. There is nothing about "Cease and Desist" that scores any points on In-and-Out.

But the upscale burger joint in Houston has a new name for a burger, In-and-Out successfully preserved their trademarked name so that no one can open an Out-and-In Burger in California with a Double-Double on the menu, and no one got hurt.
That's a happy ending in my book.

Bender said...

What kind of name is "In-and-Out"? The only two things it brings to mind is (1) a place where you want to leave fast or (2) sex. And as good as sex might be, I really would not want to have a Sex Burger, with or without the special sauce.

Methadras said...

In San Diego, In-N-Out is an institution that you will find packed to the gills nearly every day and the drive thru's are very long wait times. The double-double is a staple here and I can see how this would require a cease and desist. I don't blame them on this one. The response is appropriate as well. Sally forth!!!

Methadras said...

Michael said...

As In-N-Out invades Texas it is imperative that they aggressively protect the names of their offerings. I am not sure that the name of a sandwich is a "mark" in the traditional sense unless an image of said burger is used in their advertising and branding.


It is and it isn't a part of their secret menu either. It is prominently displayed in their commercials and on their order signage.

bagoh20 said...

I have an In-n-Out a few blocks from my home. The place has a line down the street day and night. I go there once in while, but I really don't get the crazy popularity of it. It is different from most fast food, but to my taste not especially good. The fries, which are most prized, are like my mom made when I was a kid, which is not good, but rather limp and oily, which is also my general impression of the burgers too. That must be what a lot of people like though, because their brand loyalty is unmatched, and I may be hunted down and executed for this comment.

Just bring it, you oily bastards. You'll never keep a grip on me with those hands.

Bruce Hayden said...

Part of the allure is that most of the ingredients are fresh, which is one of the reasons that the chain is so concentrated in the SW part of the country, and, in particular, LA and San Diego. Bagoh20 mentioned the fries - you can watch them cut them up and then fry them. The double double can be ordered with a lettuce wrap, which most fast food joints don't do well (Carl Juniors also does a good lettuce wrap for their burgers). When I was in Nevada, I ate at the one in Carson City quite a bit and enjoyed it, but did have to moderate my visits a lot, since I would tend to order two (lettuce wrapped) double doubles. Do like their sauce though.

Paul Brinkley said...

Still doesn't beat my favorite: Goldmember getting a C&D from MGM and changing the name of Austin Powers 3 to Never Say Member Again.

Joe said...

In-N-Out is the worse, by far, of the large chains. I found their burger was overdone and tasteless and their fries incredibly salty and once not piping hot, pretty vile.

By contrast, the C&D burger sounds delicious.

Bruce Hayden said...

Looked on the USPTO TM search site, and initially couldn't find an application or registration for a double double hamburger by that company. But, then searched on "double-double" instead of the two words separately, and found four live records with three live registrations. So, yes, the name "double-double" is a registered federal mark, and date of first use is sometime in 1963.

With a registered federal mark, if they don't police the mark, as they did here, then they stand to lose their rights through "genericide". And, I think that complaining about "double double" when their registered marks are "double-double" is justified as good practice by TM attorneys.

Bender said...

Fresh-cut potatoes do not make for good french fries. They need to soak to leech some of the starch out. And then double fry them.

SteveR said...

Lazy and careless, to not know about the In-N-Out version is ignorant.

What kind of name is "In-and-Out"?


Something about the two drive through lanes on either side of the kitchen going back to the late forties probably.

El Pollo Raylan said...

What kind of name is "In-and-Out"? The only two things it brings to mind is (1) a place where you want to leave fast or (2) sex. And as good as sex might be, I really would not want to have a Sex Burger, with or without the special sauce.

I used to see bumper stickers with the "b" and the "r" crossed out or deleted to spell:

"In-N-Out _urge_"

El Pollo Raylan said...

What kind of name is "In-and-Out"?

The names are not nearly as suggestive as "Loaf 'N Jug" and "Kum & Go" convenience store names.

traditionalguy said...

Everywhere we go they are ripping off my country club's menu and sell a Club Sandwich.

Peter said...

Well, I'd vote for "Double-Trouble" burger.

But can you get eight bux for it?

Nathan Alexander said...

In any case, the East Coast's Five Guys Burgers and Fries is no less than 10x better than In-and-Out.

stutefish said...

In any case, the East Coast's Five Guys Burgers and Fries is no less than 10x better than In-and-Out.

I dunno. We have both where I live, and I'd say they're both about equally good.

Also, dammit, now I want In-N-Out for dinner.

heyboom said...

To each their own. My wife and girls are crazy about In-n-Out, but I don't really care for it myself. I do like Five Guys. Having said that, commenter Joe grades In-n-Out the worst burger ever, but that is a personal opinion, because it is by far the most popular burger chain in Southern California.

Pettifogger said...

In the 1960s you could order a double-double burger at Whataburgers. It meant double meat and double cheese. Thinking about them makes me hungry.

BDNYC said...

In-N-Out is ridiculously overrated by Californians. That is all.

Surfed said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Surfed said...

In Cali the teenagers used to take the black In n Out Burgers bumper sticker and black out the b and the ending rs in the word burger before affixing it to their cars.

In n Out urge

EMD said...

Everywhere we go they are ripping off my country club's menu and sell a Club Sandwich.

And TradGuy steals Mitch Hedberg jokes.

Brent said...

BDNYC said...

In-N-Out is ridiculously overrated by Californians. That is all.

I would expect that from a New Yorker.

New York's gots the Pizza down A1, know what I'm say'?

But New Yorkers don't know good burgers from cardboard.




Several national burger rankings go back and forth between In-N-Out and Five Guys for #1 and #2. We have both where we live. Seriously the best burger places, not to mention the Original Tommy's Chili Burger and Pinks Hot Dogs.

So sorry for the rest of you in America!

ed said...

1. Seriously they are allowed to trademark "double-double"? That's ridiculous.

2. Five Guys burger is ok and I like them occasionally. But a home cooked burger with fresh ground meat is better. Especially if it is a combination of ground beef, ground pork and ground veal as in meatloaf mix.

3. Five Guys fries though are an abomination that deserves a severe whipping. Really. Oily, greasy, soggy, overly salted and disgusting.

4. Yes you do need to soak the fresh cut fries overnight to remove surface starch. If you do so with a solution that includes vinegar then you get a nice tang to the taste of the fries.

somefeller said...

Underbelly is a great restaurant. It was named one of the best new restaurants of the past year by Conde Nast Traveler. Outstanding food and they are getting a lot of free publicity from this dustup, though as suggested above, I think In-N-Out has the trademark high ground.

Traditionalguy says:Everywhere we go they are ripping off my country club's menu and sell a Club Sandwich.

A good club sandwich is a true delight. But there's only so far you can go with it from a culinary standpoint.


somefeller said...

And Whataburger is the best fast-food burger joint. All others fall behind.

El Pollo Raylan said...

The best fries can be had in little shops in Amsterdam.

Bender said...

About Five Guys -- You gotta have one of the originals from here in the D.C. area.

ampersand said...

Lots of places make great burgers until they decide to franchise.
Max and Erma's was one.

John said...

the main thing I remember about In and Out is the Bible verses on all the cups, wrappers, bags and other package materials.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/pammccoy/5374896170/

John Henry

Capt. Schmoe said...

Here's what people don't understand. They think In n' Out is a high priced premium burger chain. It is not.

A Double Double with cheese meal can be purchased for about the same price as an up-sized quarter pounder with cheese value meal. And it is far better.

It is a family owned chain that has no franchises. All are company stores. They pay very well for fast food gigs, their managers and district managers do very well. Their employees are pretty sharp and speak english, unlike the intellectually challenged people that the local Mickey-D's hire.

While I enjoy Five Guys as well, In-N-Out is cheaper by a few bucks and when you're jonesing for a double-double, nothing else is going to work.

BTW ya gotta eat the fries hot, usually on the ride home.

The place is called In-N-Out because most of the stores have little or no inside dining - especially the older ones. It was walk-up or drive through only.

The place rocks, Joe is prolly a White Castle fan, a burger which requires intoxication to consume.

Petunia said...

Five Guys is totally over-rated. The burgers are okay, and I like the choice of toppings, but overall, nothing special.

The fries are disgusting and the "presentation" in a plastic cup in a paper bag, so you have to dig the burger out even if you're eating in the restaurant, is ridiculous.

cubanbob said...

The best fries can be had in little shops in Amsterdam."

Brussels. With a local beer.

Tari said...

Kinda silly, since no one in their right mind is going to get confused thinking they're at In-N-Out when they're really at Underbelly, but whatever makes us lawyers happy, I guess.

We ate at In-N-Out on our last trip to CA: meh. We ate at Shake Shack today (on vac. in NYC): now that was good. They can open a location in Houston any time.

EMD said...

The best part about an In-and-Out is the lettuce.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

I agree with somefeller. Every other burger place fades into irrelevance when compared with Whataburger.

Chip S. said...

OK, so you can't get in and out of it quickly. And there's not much seating space either.

But when I crave a burger and a shake, only Fatburger will do.

Ralph L said...

Double Double reminds me of the Newport (RI) Creamery's "Aweful-Aweful" milkshakes in the 60's. Aweful good, aweful big. My parents wouldn't let me order one when I was 5, I just got part of one. In 2000, I went back to RI for the first time and discovered it was only ~100 yards from our house, on the other side of my siblings' school.

Alex said...

Chip - ever try a fried egg on your burger?

Chip S. said...

No. Not yet.

Do you recommend?

Alex said...

Oh yes, I recommend to get a double bacon egg burger with larger fries, a large Coke and large milkshake. All in a single sitting.

creeley23 said...

In-N-Out is my favorite fast-food burger. Deelish. I always hit the one in Kettleman on I-5 when I drive down to Los Angeles.

They also have a Secret Menu.

http://aht.seriouseats.com/archives/2011/03/the-in-n-out-survival-guide-we-ate-every-single-item-on-the-secret-menu.html

Rusty said...

creeley23 said...
In-N-Out is my favorite fast-food burger. Deelish. I always hit the one in Kettleman on I-5 when I drive down to Los Angeles.

I like In and Out burgers. % guys is OK.
But just for comparison drive out to Knotts Berry Farm and try a Portillos double bacon cheeseburger with the works.
If your arteries are feeling particularly venturesome try their Italian beef, but only hot, sweet, and dipped. Be sure to say 'dipped'.Wear old clothes.

~ Steven said...

My daughter had a management position with In-N-Out after college. They defend their brand zealously. I know for a fact that they have closed stores in Redding CA and Boise ID who tried to copy either their name and/or look. Like one of your commentators said, don't mess with their law firm (one of the top 5 corporate firms for which my son worked before striking out on his own).

Joe said...

The place rocks, Joe is prolly a White Castle fan, a burger which requires intoxication to consume.

Why the assumption? My assumption is that you have no taste buds whatsoever and wouldn't know a good hamburger if you found it.

Funny thing is that in the 80s, when I lived in LA, nobody I knew liked In-n-Out; it was seen as the fast food of last resort. This made me more than a bit surprised when I started hearing adoration about it a few years back.

Wendy's used to have fabulous burgers. Not any more. They also used to have good fries. I do like their frosties.

McDonald's burgers are tasteless in a very consistent way. They have really good chicken sandwiches though (and great fries again.)

I like Five-Guys, though that Smashburger was better. Don't like smashburger fries though.

Haven't yet tried Culvers.

Locally, I prefer Crown Burgers, Apollo and Red Robin.

Seerak said...

If they ever try to get into Canada, that won't work. For years before I'd ever heard of In-n-Out, a "double-double" was a Tim Horton's coffee with double cream, double sugar.

Charlie said...

Somebody mentioned Whataburger above, a Texas institutions since forever, but failed to mention they've marketed their double-double burger all that while. In-N-Out may end up on the out looking in, at least in Texas.

Jim Armstrong said...

They put an In-N-Out in here in KC several years ago. Didn't last a year. I didn't even get to sample it before it closed. I did finally get to try one in San Francisco a couple of years ago, and I understood why. It's not bad, exactly, but not all that good, either. Just "meh". I vastly prefer our local burger shops, like Winstead's.
When I lived in San Diego, there was a small chain called Doodleburgers. They were very good, but don't know if they are still in business. They were across the street from Naval Training Center on Rosecrans. I really miss them!

SwampWoman said...

Mmmmmmm. Culvers! Mmmmmmm. Whataburger! Mmmmmmm....I need to get some food.

Richard Fagin said...

http://tess2.uspto.gov/bin/showfield?f=doc&state=4804:519ij6.3.6

"Double Double" might even qualify as a famous mark because the registration alleges use in commerce since 1963. In-N-Out Burgers Corp. probably would have won a trademark infringement suit, but good on the Houston restaurant for having a sense of humor about it.

Ken Mitchell said...

In'n'Out Burger does ONE thing, and does it very well. They do burgers. Very good burgers. (Fries, shakes, and soda are the extent of the menu.) They don't do chicken, or salads, or chili, or anything else; Burgers.

In'n'Out started in Southern California and has been expanding, and every burger stand is a license to print money; they are ALWAYS busy.

Gullyborg said...

Wrigley's should sue them both: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JHujBU-9mdk

Alumino said...

Jim Armstrong said...
They put an In-N-Out in here in KC several years ago. Didn't last a year.

No, they didn't. In-N-Out did not open a restaurant in Kansas City.

Red Sign, Yellow Arrow and "In-N-XXX" does not make it an In-N-Out unless XXX = Out. Fake.

gk1 said...

Glad to hear others weigh in on 'In and Out'. It's o.k, not sure of all the hoopla about it. I will get a double double "animal style" once in a blue moon and forget the fries, they always taste mealy. 5 Guys uses superior meat but the fries are oily. It makes no sense but the best hamburger I ever had was from Pierces BBQ in Williamsburg, Va.