KANSAS CITY, Mo. (CBS/AP) The International House of Pancakes, known for its bevy of breakfast delights, is suing a different IHOP, the International House of Prayer, claiming the church is taking advantage of the restaurant chain's famous name and acronym.
The flapjack lovers' IHOP, based in Glendale, Calif., served up the lawsuit to the Kansas City-based house of prayer last week in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. The original IHOP, which trademarked the initials in 1973, cites infringement and trademark dilution as the grounds for their lawsuit, reports The Kansas City Star.
Although the two IHOPs have very little in common, the restaurant's spokesman Patrick Lenow claims the acronym infringement is becoming a problem because the church is expanding and some branches are serving food.
Lenow told The Kansas City Star they decided to formerly press charges because the church refused repeated requests to stop using the trademark.
"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," Lenow told the paper.
Gary Hecker, a well-known intellectual rights attorney in Los Angeles, sides with Lenow and told The Kansas City Star that he believes the courts will side with the restaurant chains because the prominence of the acronym may give IHOP the "right to protect itself even well outside the scope of selling pancakes."
However, Gary Hooper, a former Houston attorney who until recently served as the church mission's chief financial officer, said he didn't think the lawsuit had any legal basis.