Burger King Threatens To Sue Small NZ Burger Place Over "Whopper"

A burger place in Nelson, NZ called “Seabreeze City Takeaways,” had a burger on their menu called the “whopper,” for 12 years before someone told Burger King, and now the chain is threatening to sue.

Burger King owns the “whopper” trademark and aren’t amused to find out that another restaurant, however small, is using it.

BK’s lawyers contacted the restaurant and informed them that:

“[Burger King] is very concerned that consumers, on seeing your use of the whopper mark, will assume that it is part of our client’s whopper brand or that your takeaway shop is otherwise associated with our client.”

The owners were given until 5pm on May 13 to remove the Whopper from the menu before Burger King considers “further legal options” to protect its “valuable intellectual property rights”.

Despite the fact that Burger King really does own the trademark, the restaurant owners want a fight.

From the Nelson Mail:

Their lawyer, Tony Bamford of Bamford Law, doesn’t buy Burger King’s argument that using the whopper name creates confusion between “this little takeaway (bar)” and the multi-national chain.

“Frankly that proposition is ludicrous.”

But that doesn’t alter the fact that Burger King has rights to the whopper name under trademark, Mr Bamford said.

He is looking further into the matter and hopes to come up with a satisfactory resolution.

“Getting involved in litigation with a corporation like that is impossible simply because they (the Hofbergs) don’t have the resources to fund it, irrespective of the rights and wrongs; there is a huge economic imbalance,” he said. “Hopefully we can sort it out before it gets that far.”

Apparently the first article the Nelson Mail wrote about the burger battle resulted in an outpouring of support for the little whopper.

Mrs Hofberg said Seabreeze sold out of its whopper burger the day after news broke about Burger King’s legal threats. “We even sold out of buns yesterday and had to turn people away.”

Will the Seabreeze be able to withstand Burger King’s legal onslaught? Should they bother? Does anyone know if the burgers are any good?

Burger bar vows to battle to keep its big whopper [Nelson Mail]