breaking news

Sources: Trump assistant to be top federal prosecutor in Central Texas

Hopdoddy suit says Oklahoma restaurant is an ‘unauthorized clone’


It’s a battle over Bunz.

HopBunz, a Tulsa, Okla., burger joint, to be exact.

The owners of Austin-based Hopdoddy Burger Bar have filed suit against the Oklahoma restaurant, accusing it of trademark infringement, copyright infringement, unfair competition and unjust enrichment.

The saga began in March 2014 when Oklahoma restaurateur James Blacketer allegedly approached Hopdoddy, asking to buy a franchise, according to documents filed this week in U.S. District Court in Austin. However, Hopdoddy, which has a pair of locations in Austin, as well as ones in the Dallas area, Denver and Scottsdale, Ariz., doesn’t sell franchise rights.

Undeterred, Blacketer allegedly sent an email to Hopdoddy executives that said, in part, “I know you said that you were not interested in franchising Hopdoddy’s (nevertheless) … I hope to open discussion on (acquiring) a franchise of Hopdoddy’s,” according to the suit.

Again, Hopdoddy executives said they declined Blacketer’s request.

By August, Blacketer had opened his own restaurant, HopBunz Crafted Burgers and Beers, in Tulsa, court records indicate. Hopdoddy calls HopBunz “an unauthorized clone.”

A second HopBunz, also in the Tulsa area, has since opened.

HopBunz didn’t respond to a message from the American-Statesman seeking comment.

Hopdoddy president and CEO Dan Mesches said the suit was a last resort.

“We respect everyone’s right to bring quality burgers to food lovers across the country and understand that imitation can be the sincerest form of flattery, but HopBunz has unfortunately created confusion in the marketplace,” Mesches said. “After months of failed attempts to resolve this issue amicably, we have been advised to take action to protect the Hopdoddy name that our loyal fans have loved since 2010.”

The consumer confusion comes, in part, because “defendants or their agents meticulously and extensively gathered on-site information at Hopdoddy in Austin, and took photographs and notes for purposes of re-creating Hopdoddy in Tulsa,” the suit claims.

The photos and notes were then allegedly used to “fabricate, print or otherwise re-create signature Hopdoddy trade dress, design elements or copyrighted materials, for purposes of utilizing same in its HopBunz restaurant,” according to the lawsuit. “Upon information and belief, defendants’ primary goal in forming HopBunz was to create a self-franchised facsimile of Hopdoddy.”

One example: The suit alleges parts of the Hopdoddy menu were “lifted wholesale,” pointing to a customer’s post on the HopBunz Facebook page that says, in part, “Do you also own Hopdoddys? I love that place. Thank you for bringing it here and not changing the menu!!”

In its filing, Hopdoddy asks the court to block HopBunz from using “confusingly similar” marketing materials. The restaurant is also seeking statutory damages and reimbursement for attorneys’ fees, among other things.

A trial date hasn’t been set.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Business

Whole Foods shareholders OK sale to Amazon
Whole Foods shareholders OK sale to Amazon

Shareholders for Austin-based Whole Foods Market have approved the sale of the company to the e-commerce Amazon.com, Whole Foods executives say. A number of the company’s shareholders gathered Wednesday morning at Whole Foods’ headquarters on Bowie Street in Austin to vote on the $13.7 billion deal, while others voted by mail, telephone...
How Powerball manipulated the odds to make another massive jackpot
How Powerball manipulated the odds to make another massive jackpot

At $700 million, Wednesday night's Powerball prize is the second-largest lottery jackpot in its history, and the math is working out in favor of lotto commissions. Two years ago, your chances of becoming an instant millionaire were 1 in roughly 175 million. Now, the odds are 1 in roughly 292 million. Tweaks to the game in October 2015 increased the...
NW Austin movie theater reopens after massive renovation
NW Austin movie theater reopens after massive renovation

A Northwest Austin movie theater has reopened under new management following a months-long renovation. AMC now operates the nine-screen cineplex at Lakeline Mall, 11200 Lakeline Mall Drive. It was formerly run by Regal Cinemas before closing this year. Upgrades include AMC’s “signature” recliners, an expanded food menu, new audio...
Cedar Park shopping center sells for $112.25 million
Cedar Park shopping center sells for $112.25 million

A Cedar Park shopping center has changed hands in a deal valued at $112.25 million. The Parke, which opened this year at 5001 183A toll road, is a 404,000-square-foot center anchored by the region’s first 365 by Whole Foods Market, Nordstrom Rack, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Field & Stream, among others. PHOTOS: Cedar Park’s 365 by...
Austin lands conference focused on health care innovation
Austin lands conference focused on health care innovation

Local health care industry officials on Tuesday said they have enticed a key conference to move to Austin from Atlanta and expect at least 500 top executives to attend next spring. The third annual Transformation in Health Conference, tentatively scheduled for April or May, relocated to Austin to tap into the region’s entrepreneurial and budding...
More Stories