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Burger King locked in trademark battles with Indian ‘me-toos’


Even before it entered India debut last year, Burger King has been locked in trademark cases across India.

The legal effort is paying off in some cases. Ludhiana-based street vendor Ravinder Pal Singh Babbar, who operated Mr Singh Burger King, changed the brand to Mr Singh Food King, saying he doesn’t have the money to travel to New Delhi to fight court cases. According to court documents, Babbar “acknowledged that the plaintiff ‘s trademark is a well-known mark” and filed an affidavit saying he would change the brand name. The court disposed of the case in September.

A Varanasi-based restaurant called Burger King, too, changed its name to Taste King after a Delhi High Court injunction. It is still fighting the case, according to Virender Gupta, one of the brothers who own the outlet.

Miami-based Burger King Corp., which was acquired by investment firm 3G Capital in 2010, is known for its signature Whopper burgers and opened its first store in India last year in a joint venture with Everstone Capital. The alliance has opened 33 outlets in the country so far. Burger King International filed at least six trademark cases against Indian operators in the Delhi High Court in the past two years and three of them are still pending, according to the court website. One of them involves Burger King Restaurant Pvt. Ltd., a chain of vegetarian outlets based in Gujarat.

“Burger King has not been able to get any order against us,” said Vishamber Shewakramani, proprietor of Burger King Restaurant. It filed a counter case in response to the US company’s trademark lawsuit against it. Shewakramani said the case will come up for hearing on January 20.

“We cannot comment on the ongoing cases but Burger King Corporation will take such action as is necessary within the confines of the law to protect against unlawful use or infringement of its trademarks,” a company spokesperson said in an email. The US giant is also “closely watching” another local player – Gurgaon-based Burger Singh. Started by entrepreneur Kabirjeet Singh, Burger Singh, recently mopped up angel investment funding of INR 2.2 crore.

Source: Economic Times

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