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In-N-Out Sues for Burger Infringement, Seeks Side of Injunction

By George Khoury, Esq. on September 06, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Some lawsuits you just shouldn't read about until after lunch. The In-N-Out burger trademark infringement case against Smashburger is one such lawsuit, as the juicy details are bound to make burger lovers salivate.

In short, In-N-Out alleges that Smashburger violated their trademark on the phrase "Double Double" which is used to describe one of the few menu selections offered at the burger chain. The allegations rest upon Smashburger's recent menu addition from this past summer, the "Triple Double."

Will the Triple Double Burst the Double Double Trademark Bubble?

When it comes to the two burgers themselves, it seems that the big difference is a single slice of cheese. While In-N-Out's Double Double is two burger patties and two slices of cheese, Smashburger's Triple Double is two burger patties and three slices of cheese. Despite these differences, the phrases Triple Double and Double Double actually originate from statistical analysis in professional basketball.

While the physical differences between burgers may seem significant when explained in detail (after all, the cheese-to-meat ratio is a critical component of any cheeseburger), In-N-Out is alleging that the name is what truly offends and harms their Double Double trademark. Interestingly, the phrase Double Double is trademarked a few different ways by In-N-Out, including a trademark to cover children's apparel bearing the mark or phrase, in addition to the burger sandwich trademark.

Registered Since 1966, Registered Since 1966

In-N-Out has held the registered trademark for the Double Double burger since 1966. Meanwhile, Smashburger opened in 2007, and the Triple Double debuted in 2017.

In short, In-N-Out is claiming that by Smashburger using the Triple Double name, consumers are being misled, confused and/or tricked into believing that In-N-Out is associated with Smashburger, or has authorized a copy or modification of the world famous Double Double In-N-Out burger.

In-N-Out is seeking an injunction to stop Smashburger from continuing to use the Triple Double name for its burger, which has, not surprisingly, drastically helped its sales. In addition to the injunction, In-N-Out is also seeking monetary compensation as a result of the unauthorized use of their trademark, as well as to disgorge Smashburger's profits gained through the use.

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