Pancakes vs. Prayers?

Post date: Sep 15, 2010 6:56:43 PM

In an interesting trademark development, the International House of Pancakes -- widely known simply as "IHOP" -- has filed suit against the Kansas City-based International House of Prayers due to the use of the IHOP acronym.

Kansas City Star: IHOP Sues IHOP

As far as the article goes, I agree with two points that were made. First, I think this quote sums up the situation quite well:

Because of that extremely famous name, IHOP may well have the right to protect itself even well outside the scope of selling pancakes

Secondly, the observation that "one defense might be that the two sides are so different that no confusion could exist" is also a fair statement.

My prediction: the "real" IHOP will prevail. Essentially, the first point above outweighs the second one. Granted, prayers aren't that similar to pancakes, or anything else IHOP does (which is part of the TM infringement analysis), but the "strength" of IHOP's trademark should ultimately be the key factor. Due to the IHOP mark being widely-known, and the fact that the prayer house likely chose their acronym based on the same, IHOP should prevail in some form or another. That and the fact that IHOP started using their mark back in 1972. The prayer house should be fine if they just come up with a different acronym...maybe something like HOIP or "The International HOPry"...or maybe "Prayers 'R' Us"...wait, maybe not.