Burger franchise claims local eatery infringes on trademark
The In & Out House, a longtime Aspen eatery, may be in danger of losing its name in a trademark battle with a much older California corporation.An executive with the In-N-Out Burger corporation, based in Southern California but with outlets throughout California, Nevada and Arizona, confirmed late Wednesday that his corporation and the Aspen business were in negotiations over the name.”We’ve got something brewing with them,” said Carl Van Fleet, vice president of planning for In-N-Out Burger.He also said the dispute was not due to any plans to open In-N-Out Burger stores in Colorado any time soon, although, he said, “We hope to be there in the future.”But, he said, “We’re not even as far up I-15 as Utah yet.”The chain traditionally has grown in a step-by-step geographic pattern, Van Fleet said, not leapfrogging entire states.As far as the negotiations with Aspen’s In & Out House are concerned, he would only say, “We’re kind of in the process of working through trying to come to some sort of agreement” over what the burger company feels is an infringement on its trademarked name.In-N-Out Burger was founded in 1948 by Harry and Esther Snyder in Baldwin Park, Calif., according to the company website, and slowly has expanded. Van Fleet was not sure when the name was registered as a trademark.He said he did not believe the dispute had made its way into the courts yet but added, “There is kind of potential litigation” that prevented him from talking much about the particulars of the case.Van Fleet declined to discuss how the corporation found out about the In & Out House in Aspen, or whether the goal is to get the local company to change its name.Efforts to reach Adrian Burns, operator of the In & Out House, were not successful. The small lunch shop has been operating out of the same Main Street location for more than two decades, offering various sandwiches prepared behind a minuscule counter, with chips and beverages on the side.John Colson’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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