Popular burger served at Houston restaurant renamed after trademark issue

June 19, 2013 4:22:44 PM PDT
The hamburger is a staple of the summer diet, served at everything from backyard barbecues to tailgating parties. The burger is also behind a legal dispute between a national chain and a local restaurant.

The chef says it's not the ingredients that he used but what he called one of the items on his menu that resulted in receiving a letter from a national chain restaurant he says he's never even been to.

When Chris Shepherd opened his Underbelly Restaurant on Westheimer about a year ago, the award-winning chef cooked up a delicious burger for the menu.

"It's very homemade. I love that aspect, and the tomatoes are gorgeous," Underbelly customer Peggy Lucas said.

With meat butchered right in the restaurant, plus cheese and another layer of meat and cheese, fresh lettuce and tomato from local farmers, topped off with a bun, the obvious name for him seemed like the "Double Double."

"I was sitting there and it was like what you really want to eat. It wasn't a take on anything," Shepherd said.

But earlier this week, the heat was turned up a bit.

Shepherd received a letter from the national chain In-N-Out Burger, which has trademarked many burger names including "Double Double".

"I had no idea there was a trademark on it," Shepherd said.

In-N-Out Burger Vice President Arnie Wensinger says a customer made them aware of Underbelly's use of the "Double Double" name and goes on to say:

"In-N-Out Burger has used the "Double-Double" trademark as far back as 1963 and in order to protect the mark we must request that other businesses not use the name. As such, we asked Underbelly to remove the usage of our trademark from their menu after showing them that our trademark registration and first use dates back to 1963. They amicably agreed, removed the mark, and we now consider the matter resolved."

The popular Houston chef says he has no beef with the California-based burger chain's request.

"I understand, I definitely understand it. If it was something they have trademarked, I would do the same thing," Shepherd said.

Adding humor to his burger's new name on the menu: "The UB Cease and Desist Burger."

"You'll see a lot of stuff here that's just fun, and that's what that is intended to be. Just, OK we'll cease and assist and serve good food," Underbelly customer Ron Kahanek said.

And his loyal customers? Well they don't seem to care what it's called, as long as chef Shepherd continues to serve it up.

"It's fabulous," Lucas said.

In case you're wondering, officials with In-N-Out Burger say while they do not have immediate plans to open a restaurant in our area, they do hope to be in our city one day.

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