Family restaurant threatened with legal action by US giant if it doesn't change name to avoid 'copyright breach'

20 June 2024, 15:36

Smash and Wings owner Haroon is unhappy at being threatened to make the change
Smash and Wings owner Haroon is unhappy at being threatened to make the change. Picture: Supplied
Lillie Almond

By Lillie Almond

A family run burger shop has been told by an international food outlet that it must change its name due to alleged copyright infringement.

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A smash burger is made by smashing ground beef onto the grill or griddle with a spatula. The style of cooking inspired the name of Hertfordshire restaurant Smash and Wings two years ago.

But the family-run shop has received a letter from the lawyers of US-based chain "Smashburger" - demanding a change in its name and branding.

Smash and Wings co-owner Haroon Khan told LBC that dozens of outlets use the word "smash" in their name - and that it's a common cooking technique, which he has the right to keep in his company title.

Khan said: “People know us as Smash and Wings. At the end of the day, our speciality food is smash burgers and wings, you know?

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Haroon. Picture: Supplied

“So it’s hard to envisage calling ourselves something different and still maintaining that same reputation, and that same following.”

The Hertfordshire business is decorated with a colour scheme of black, yellow pink and blue - while the US chain Smashburger’s logo is auburn, white, dark grey and teal.

But Khan is not the only one to have faced this demand from the international food-chain. Preston based “Smashed” was one of many with the word in its name - and said it was also threatened with a lawsuit by Smashburger.

It has since changed its name to “All Hopes No Promises”. Owner Allishia told LBC: “We knew nothing about Smashburger until 18 months into business when we competed with them at National UK Burger Awards.

“A company like Smashburger are just bullies who intimidate smaller United Kingdom businesses. We are just a small, family, independent business.”

. Picture: Social media

Such cases are not uncommon, according to Reena Popat, a trademark expert and partner at commercial law firm Carter Bond.

She said that there are numerous contributing factors in cases like this.

“But also, what it comes down to, is who’s got the deeper pockets, unfortunately… And it looks like Smashburger LLC is quite a big outfit with a lot of franchise business all across the world.

“And they may have targeted Haroon’s business specifically due to the size - and whether or not Haroon is actually going to defend it - and has he got the money and the resources to actually see it through.”

Reena said that in her opinion, it's “bullying tactics” - and that it’s a “long shot” for Smashburger to make its case against Haroon - partly because the branding looks different and because “smash” is a style of cooking.

Smash and Wings owner Haroon Khan wants the dozens of UK restaurants with “smash” in their name to unite and create a class action, defending their names and thus preventing cases like this in the future.

Smashburger said that it “will not be making further comments on ongoing legal cases."

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