AUSTIN (KXAN) — Hopdoddy and Hop Bunz Crafted Burgers and Beers. The two restaurants both have “hop” in their name, but is that where the likeness ends? Not according to the owners of Austin-based Hopdoddy.
In a lawsuit filed in Travis County, the owners of Hopdoddy claim the owners of Hop Bunz in Tulsa, Okla. took photographs and notes of their restaurant in order to recreate a similar restaurant. The suit is for unfair competition and trademark infringement.
In March 2014, the owners of Hopdoddy said James Blacketer, a restaurateur in Oklahoma, contacted them in regards to possibly franchising Hopdoddy but they declined his offer. According to the lawsuit, Blacketer and his restaurant group opened Hop Bunz in August 2014.
In a statement, the President and CEO of Hopdoddy, Dan Mesches said, “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.”
Citing Facebook posts, the plaintiffs say customers are confusing the two restaurants. In one post, a customer from Oklahoma posted on Hop Bunz Facebook page, “Do you also own Hopdoddys? I love that place. thank you for bringing it here and not changing the menu!”
KXAN News reached out to the owner of Hop Bunz but he issued a “no comment.”
A look at both menus show some similarities. Both menus have a “Classic” burger and Hopdoddy’s Terlingua burger has corn chips as does Hop Bunz’ Frito Bandito. Hopdoddy has 13 burgers on their regular menu, Hop Bunz has 14.
Hopdoddy does have registered trademarks for its name. In the suit they claim their restaurants also have a “distinctive design decor, an idiosyncratic menu, unique trade dress, and an innovative service model.”
Hopdoddy’s first restaurant opened in Austin in 2010, since then, the restaurant has grown to seven restaurants in three states. Hop Bunz currently has two restaurants in Tulsa.