IHOP Sues IHOP Over IHOP Trademark

It’s a battle of biblical proportions as one IHOP — better known as the International House of Pancakes — fights another IHOP — the International House of Prayer — over the use of those four famous letters.

Last week, pancake IHOP filed suit against church IHOP, alleging trademark dilution and infringement.

You probably are all familiar with pancake IHOP, home of the Rooty Tooty Fresh ‘n’ Fruity breakfast and pancakes stuffed with cheesecake. The breakfast chain has been around since the late ’50s and using the IHOP acronym since the early ’70s.

Meanwhile, there’s the other IHOP, a megachurch in Kansas City, MO, that is open 24/7, every day of the year for folks who want to pop in and pray. This IHOP was founded in 1999.

Pancake IHOP claims six registered trademarks with the IHOP acronym. The lawsuit alleges that prayer IHOP’s use of the name causes “great and irreparable injury and confuses the public.”

The suit also alleges that prayer IHOP deliberately chose its name to ride on the coattails of the restaurant chain. The company says it has filed the suit to protect the chain’s franchisees: “We are compelled to protect the 350 small-business owners who own IHOP franchises and the IHOP good name that’s been around for 52 years.”

The eatery’s rep also points out that some prayer IHOPs have begun serving food. It could be argued that this would put the two IHOPs in competition with each other.

The lawsuit against prayer IHOP isn’t seeking monetary damages beyond attorney fees and costs of litigation.


IHOP (the pancake-maker) sues IHOP (the prayer center) over trademark [Kansas City Star]

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  1. Weighted Companion Cube says:

    Gonna have to side with IHOP here.

  2. MaliBoo Radley says:

    There used to be a place (might still be) in Georgetown called “International masion du crepes”. I thought of IHOP every time I passed the joint. Never ate there.

    FTR, I might have misspelled the name.

    • AlxFherMana says:

      Heh, creative! I would like to point out though, that crêpes and pancakes are not at all the same. One is thin, yummy and foldable; the other is thick and fluffy. Sorry, pet peeve. :)

      • Englishee Teacher says:

        The French don’t have a separate word for pancake, it translates to crepe.

        • MaliBoo Radley says:

          Exactly. And, to muddy the waters even further, in the UK the thing that they call a pancake is what we in America would call a crepe. Asking for pancakes in the UK can be a very unsatisfying prospect when you’re expecting fluffy hotcakes.

          • raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

            Then there was the comedian who ordered “four pancakes” while in Britain, and was worried when it seemed to be taking so long… because due to accent differences, the waitress thought he meant four POUNDcakes. She tried to confirm with him like three or four times, and they both used the same-sounding word each time… I forget which comedian did that though.

        • AlxFherMana says:

          Yes, but there are English words the French have borrowed, “un pancake” being one of them. It is actually in the Trésor de la Langue Française informatisée ( http://atilf.atilf.fr/ ) and is translated as (my translation): English cake, very well-liked in North America, and which resembles a thick crêpe or a galette.

    • magus_melchior says:

      The spelling is almost perfect– but “maison” is French for “house”.

      (The Latin root is the same as the one for “mansion”, so it’s an understandable error.)

  3. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Sorry God, but you can’t defeat U.S. copyright and patent law.

    • AI says:

      Actually He could, but He’d have to do something for once rather than just working ‘in mysterious ways’

      • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

        “Now paging Archangel Ariel. Ariel to the Rain-Wrath-Upon-The-Earth staging area.”

      • perruptor says:

        What ever happened to that trucking company that had God on their side?

        They had it on the sides of their trailers in big capital letters. Did God defend his trademark?

    • javert says:

      Except that this is trademark….

    • Zarggg says:

      All God has to do is prove that humans are capable of differentiating between a religion and breakfast. I don’t think that’s beyond Him.

  4. syzygy says:

    I know if I was looking for pancakes and was given a sermon, I’d complain.

  5. obits3 says:

    It has been over a decade. Pancake IHOP should just leave Prayer IHOP alone. Also, I don’t see how anyone should be able to trademark acronyms, but that’s just my opinion.

  6. AI says:

    WWF should win

  7. Salty Johnson says:

    Why are there so many stories lately about corporations defending their trademarks? Of course they’re going to defend their trademarks… they HAVE TO defend their trademarks. Besides, this is a blatantly infringing use of the IHOP trademark anyway.

  8. fs2k2isfun says:

    Of all the sleazeball things businesses can do, suing a church has to rank near the top.

    • H3ion says:

      Of all the sleazeball things one could do, appropriating someone else’s intellectual property and then hiding behind religion pretty much tops the list.

    • Gulliver says:

      Of all the slimy things a church can do (which there are thousands), breaking the law seems about par for the course. By the way, how much does this church pay in taxes? Property taxes? How much do they take in in revenue? We could balance the budget on the tax avoidance scam of church

      • ekd says:

        They have a lot of land, in a not cheap-but not most expensive area of KC. Definately a lot of property tax avoidance there. They also own an apartment complex, not sure if they pay tax on that area. It’s a massive complex.

        Also, I used to work near them and there was always a line of crazy people coming in. Got to expect it when you saw “IHOP” anywhere on them.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Of all the sleazeball things churches can do, stealing someone else’s established trademark for personal gain has to rank near the top.

      There, fixed that for you.

    • The Brad says:

      Well it’s kinda sleazy of a church to steal the trademarked acronym of a restaurant.

    • classic10 says:

      Because they are above the law?

    • Pax says:

      No church is above the law. Give unto Caesar what is his.

    • drjayphd says:

      As we’ve seen far, far too many times, the cloth doesn’t automatically grant you moral rectitude.

    • sew12 says:

      See now I was thinking of all the sleazeball things businesses can be, being a church has to rank near the top.

  9. diasdiem says:

    Nothing says Christian values like trademark infringement.

  10. Mira Mi Huevo!!! says:

    IHOP (Pancakes) has the legal upper hand here, but morally… Wait What?!?!?! IHOP (Church) is in the wrong here all the way… What self respecting evangelical organization would stoop as low as this one and lure parishioners with promises of sweet pancakey salvation…

  11. dadelus says:

    There have been a number of stories about the nutty religious IHOP in the KC area. They’re about as borderline cult as you can get. The local media have done a number of stories on them and they’re a frightening group.

    • dadelus says:

      ugh… repetitive post is repetitive. Sorry about that :(

    • ekd says:

      If you watch “Jesus Camp”, the one guy going on about abortion is from KC. South KC near IHOP… as he’s involved with them.

      I always thought it’d be fun to protest in front of his house the way that he used to stand in front of Dr. Tiller’s.

  12. samonela says:

    You stay classy IHOP…

  13. dreamfish says:

    International House of Prayer and Pancakes (though not necessarily in that order).

  14. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    IHOP should just change their name to “place you’d always rather go instead of Denny’s if it’s not too far away.” PYARGIODIINTFA just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?

  15. SoFlaSnowMan says:

    Isn’t iHop a jump rope being introduced by Apple?

    • Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

      Yes. And it’s magical, and for the low low price of $199 for the 2 foot version, $299 for the 4 foot, and $399 for the 6 foot. For an additional $120, your iHop will be able to use AT&T’s data network, which gives you unlimited* internet access for a nominal fee.

      *subject to the end user license agreement.

  16. sunniapocalypse says:

    Ehh. I work in a restaurant in downtown KC. When KC hosts the IHOPrayer conference, there are 10,000+ of these people in downtown. I have an immense disdain for them. VIVA LA PANCAKES.

  17. TuxedoCartman says:

    Pancakes are my god.

    • magus_melchior says:

      “My health club is the International House of Pancakes… because no matter how much you weigh, there will always be someone who weighs 150 lbs. more than you will ever weigh. It’s guaranteed, it’s on the back of the menu, read it sometime.”

      –Lewis Black, “If it weren’t for my horse…”

  18. Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

    Just two words: CREDIT. UNION.

  19. TerpBE says:

    You really shouldn’t miss their Sunday morning “Rooty Tooty Christian Duty” sermon.

  20. dougp26364 says:

    Personally, I just praying for pancakes.

  21. LINIStittles says:

    Fools. If they would just join forces they’d take the world by storm! We’d all go eat some pancakes, then go pray for more pancakes. It becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.

  22. KJR52 says:

    WWIHOPD?

  23. DD_838 says:

    Pancake IHOP should put out a statement denouncing PROP 8.

    Prayer IHOP wouldn’t be able to change their name fast enough.

  24. trillium says:

    I vote pancakes over Evangelical Fundamentalist any day!

  25. dennis says:

    A church ripping off? Who would have thunk? Oh, send your money to the lord, but make the check out to me.

  26. The Lone Gunman says:

    I always thought it stood for International House of Ptomaine….

  27. jaredwilliams says:

    IHOP couldn’t be right because IHOP was there first!

  28. classic10 says:

    It is not funny. This churches are tax free but not above the law.
    Change the name IHOP for Coca Cola and you would have a different reaction. IHOP is a well defined brand and calling a church International House of Prayer is clearly a trademark violation.

  29. Pax says:

    Pancake folks called dibs on the name. It’s theirs. It’s as simple as that.

  30. zigziggityzoo says:

    IHOPancakes gives IHOPrayer members a 10% discount at the restaurants near the church, and have been doing so for years.

  31. Armand1880 says:

    I live in Michigan, I actually have attended many of the IHOP (Prayer) conferences in Kansas City and frequent their site for videos and music and whatnot.

    I’m honestly surprised this hasn’t happened before now. I kind of wondered when our church group was going to the IHOP why we needed a bus.

  32. the_didgers says:

    At least IHOPrayer isn’t suing IHOPancakes. That would be like when Apple sued Macpro in Australia.

  33. hotcocoa says:

    I had to comment on the hilarity of the poll…I voted for the 2nd IHOP (just because).
    Church IHOP was trying to be cute (reminds me of that God Squad dude with the VW Beetle) and pancake IHOP ignored them until they started serving food, which was out of line. Make ‘em change their name and close the case.
    And are they really even an “international” house of prayer, or just in Kansas City? Sneaky bums. So much for originality these days.

  34. xredgambit says:

    IHOP now 100% more Sacralicous.

  35. JulesNoctambule says:

    If you’re too stupid to figure out the differences between a church and a restaurant, you deserve to lose out.

  36. mbd says:

    > IHOP Sues IHOP Over IHOP Trademark

    No, IHOP sues International House Of Prayer over there use their trademark “IHOP”.

  37. TimothyT says:

    Actually, our IHOP has gone to hell, so this may be a good thing.

  38. Dover says:

    Yeah, but this one is actually confusing for customers. Imagine you’re visiting family in Kansas City, you wake up and trudge downstairs where you find your hosts. “We were just getting ready to go to IHOP, wanna join?” they ask.

    There’s no way you could pass up your favorite chain restaurant serving your favorite meal of the day, so you dash upstairs and quickly change out of your PJs. Your family is just getting into the SUV and you gleefully hop into the back seat. “I can’t wait to drown my pancakes in that delicious boysenberry syrup!” you exclaim.

    “Pancakes?” they ask, in famously unbearable unison.

  39. mszabo says:

    I used to goto the Ipswich House of Pizza in Ipswich, Massachusetts. I bet there are a lot of I… House of Pizza’s that could be facing lawsuits.

  40. injekted says:

    I have a friend that works for IHOPrayer. When he told me he worked there, I thought, “Odd, considering you have a masters degree in music, but whatever.” Then he emailed me from his ihop.org email address. That’s when I realized that he was much worse off than I thought.

  41. dabarak says:

    The church hasn’t got a prayer.

  42. common_sense84 says:

    Pancakes win. Churches are not free to reuse popular trademarks in cute ways for their religious practices. There is no question why they chose IHOP, because it is a popular acronym due to the restaurant.

  43. cherveny says:

    They sue the IHOP church for using IHOP, but they don’t sue the protein search engine, Information Hyperlinked over Proteins, that also uses IHOP.

  44. Razor512 says:

    Well, IHOP should sue IHOP over it because IHOP had the trademark first. and it is unfair for IHOP to suddenly decide to steal IHOP’s trademark like that.

  45. ElijahModnar says:

    Pancakes all the way. Churches tend to frown upon me showing up hammered at 4 AM.

  46. HalOfBorg says:

    IHOP IHOP IHOP IHOP ………….gooooooooooo IHOP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  47. zekebullseye says:

    I make my own pancakes at home and make my own prayers before I eat them. So there.

  48. RandomHookup says:

    The church could just change it’s name to World House of Prayer (WHOP), because what harm could come from that?

  49. SPOON - now with Forkin attitude says:

    I don’t like IHOP.

  50. IR1 says:

    What about the International House of Pain!?

    • drjayphd says:

      When it’s time to rock a funky joint, they’re on point. When it’s time to rock a funky jam, they’re the man.

  51. Mogbert says:

    I think you should know that I pray at the IHOP regularly… and then eat my Split Descision. I’d be sorely disapointed at stopping at an IHOP and having them offer me some unlevened bread.

  52. Southern says: