In-N-Out Suing Smashburger Over Alleged Trademark Infringement

As of August 28th, Irvine, California-based burger restaurant In-N-Out has now filed a lawsuit against competitor Smashburger over what it claims to be trademark infringement related to one of their menu items.

The Los Angeles Daily News elaborates, explaining how In-N-Out has filed suit against the Denver burger chain for their "Smashburger Triple Double" menu item. According to the case, this name is far too similar to In-N-Out's famous "Double Double" burger.

In-N-Out's long history of business has given it the chance to trademark many of its famous sandwiches, including the "Double Double" name. “Smashburger’s use of the Triple Double and Smashburger Triple Double marks is likely to confuse and mislead the consuming public, and injure In-N-Out, by causing consumers to believe incorrectly that Smashburger’s products originate from or are authorized by In-N-Out,” they say.

The suit alleges that, since In-N-Out has been using their trademarked names Double Double and Triple Triple since 1963 and 1966, respectively, this is enough reason to believe that Smashburger's new Triple Double is named to directly draw parallels to their existing and long held intellectual property. They argue that this could mislead their customer base, especially after Smashburger's recent expansion into California a few years ago and their already similar practice of making hamburgers.

Even so, Smashburger co-founder Tom Ryan denies that they were in any way inspired by the In-N-Out menu. “Frankly, we are flattered by the attention In-N-Out has given our Smashburger Triple Double. To date, Smashburger’s Triple Double is posting double-digit traffic and sales increases for the 10-year-old Smashburger brand." He claims that the Tripe Double was meant only to appeal to a "new generation" of burger lovers and that it is not comparable in any way to the food offered at In-N-Out.

This isn't the first time In-N-Out has lodged complains against other businesses that have seemingly tried to copy them. Known for their protectiveness over the brand's iconography, the company has sued businesses in the past over similar uniform styles, logos, and decor that appeared to mimic the restaurant. Whether or not Smashburger will join the club and be forced to change their sandwich's name remains to be seen.