What do you think of when you some one mentions IHOP? Pancakes, right? Maybe some syrup. How about the prayer and prophecy to go along with that?
The International House of Pancakes (aka IHOP) is suing the International House of Prayer (see Ihop.org) for trademark dilution. According to the Pancake empire, the restaurant chain has extensively advertised the IHOP trademark(http://www.trademarkia.com/ihop-75671342.html) across the United States for more than 25 years—to the point where the general public recognizes IHOP as referring to a pancake house.
The International House of Pancakes alleges that the International House of Prayer is diluting—or tarnishing—its well know trademark. In order to win this claim, the pancake chain will have to prove that it is considered a “famous” mark. This is because famous marks are entitled to more protection than regular old, non-famous trademarks.
Once a trademark is considered famous, the burden is proof is no longer simply “likelihood of confusion” between the marks; rather, the owner of the mark just has to show that the defendant’s use of the “famous” mark is tarnishing the image of the mark or blurring its core distinctiveness.
So, the International House of Pancakes sure hopes that you think of pancakes and syrup when you hear people talking about their Sunday trip to IHOP. Because after prayer, it may be peanuts, parsnips, pandemonium!
But, so long as IHOP is considered a famous mark, the International House of Pancakes shouldn’t have to worry about any of this.