Suing a small dry cleaning business in Wichita, Kansas, might seem like more trouble than it’s worth for one of the West Coast’s most beloved burger chains, but apparently In-N-Out Burger felt the similarities between its name and logo and those of In-N-Out Cleaners were worth taking legal action over – and frankly, after looking at the evidence, it’s hard to blame them.
Apparently, In-N-Out Cleaners opened around September of last year promising “the lowest prices” in Wichita for “your dry cleaning needs!!” For its logo, the business chose a simple design: “IN-N-OUT” spelled in block, red letters with the word “CLEANERS” right justified below in a slightly smaller typeface. In the background, fittingly, a hanger – angled upward and bright yellow. The resulting logo definitely got attention, but not just from people looking to get their clothes cleaned; according to TMZ, the similarities were so striking compared the In-N-Out Burger logo that at least one fan of the fast food joint thought the chain had finally come to Kansas.
In-N-Out Burger also decided the similarities were just too glaring – the colors, the font, the punctuation and even the positioning of the hanger all directly correlate to the burger brand’s logo – and the Irvine, California-based cult chain filed a lawsuit against the Kansas cleaner on six counts including trademark infringement and trademark dilution, according to KWCH. In-N-Out is seeking punitive damages and a name and logo change, as well as requesting that the cleaning company “deliver for destruction any and all signs or other advertising material that use the words IN-N-OUT.”
At this point, the suit is still in litigation, so the outcome is up in the air. I’ll give the caveat up front that I’m not a lawyer, but a possible defense for In-N-Out Cleaners could be that since In-N-Out Burger doesn’t have any locations in Kansas, no one would mistake the two companies. And that might convince In-N-Out to open a Wichita franchise to solidify its trademark – which might have been the reason this genius decided to open In-N-Out Cleaners to begin with. In-N-Out fans are known to take desperate measures to get their favorite burgers.