You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myStatesman.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myStatesman.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myStatesman.com.

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

Up the Ladder

Banking & finance Chase has named Marcus Kline vice president and Austin-area manager of business banking. Community The Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has named Luis Rodriguez president and chief executive officer. Manufacturing & retail Factory Mattress has named Sarah Johnson chief financial officer. Technology Umbel has named Mike...
Have a great workplace? Let us know

Help us spread the word about the best places to work in Austin. Nominations remain open for the American-Statesman’s 2017 Top Workplaces of Greater Austin project, with the nomination deadline extended until July 7. The project recognizes employers that stand for the best in leadership, vision, an employee-centered culture and other qualities...
If Social Security overpays you, you’re still on the hook

Suppose Social Security makes a mistake in determining your benefits. Guess what? Their mistake becomes your mistake, and they will bill you for any amount they overpaid you, even if they told you the benefits in question were yours to collect. This happened to the husband of a woman who I’ll call Dana to protect her identity. Let me call her...
‘Jenga tower’ starting to make mark on Austin’s skyline
‘Jenga tower’ starting to make mark on Austin’s skyline

This week, some Austinites might have noticed a change on the downtown skyline. Construction has progressed to the point that the Independent — nicknamed the “Jenga tower” — has started taking on elements of its defining look as the 58-story condominium project rises toward its place as the city’s tallest building...
Report: Walmart won’t make rival bid for Whole Foods
Report: Walmart won’t make rival bid for Whole Foods

A week after Amazon unveiled plans to acquire Austin-based Whole Foods Market in a deal valued at $13.7 billion, Walmart has decided it won’t put in a rival bid, according to published reports. The Bentonville, Ark.-based retail giant is one of several companies that had reportedly been looking at trying to match or beat Amazon’s $42-per-share...
More Stories