The owners of the Austin-based, long-lined craft burger spot Hopdoddy are suing the owners of HopBunz Craft Burgers & Beer in Tulsa, OK for allegedly copying their restaurant, reports KXAN. In a lawsuit filed in Travis County for "unfair competition" and "trademark infringement" the Hopdoddy owners claim that the owners of HopBunz took pictures and notes of Hopdoddy to recreate a similar restaurant.
According to the lawsuit, HopBunz is confusing burger lovers in Tulsa, where there are two Hopbunz locations. (Since opening in Austin in 2010, Hopdoddy has expanded to seven restaurants in three states, but has yet to open any locations in Oklahoma.) KXAN reports:
Citing Facebook posts, the plaintiffs say customers are confusing the two restaurants. In one post, a customer from Oklahoma posted on HopBunz Facebook page, "Do you also own Hopdoddys? I love that place. thank you for bringing it here and not changing the menu!"
Allegedly James Blacketer, one of the HopBunz owners, approached Hopdoddy in March 2014 about possibly opening a Hopdoddy franchise and was declined. The Statesman reports that Blacketer was 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."
HopBunz then opened in August 2014.
In an email to Eater, Hopdoddy declined to comment on any past contact between the two craft burger creators, saying that the only information they could provide at this time was the following statement from from Dan Mesches, President & CEO of Hopdoddy:
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. 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.
— Sofia Sokolove