They say that imitation is the greatest form of flattery. Apparently, the line between flattery and trademark infringement is all too blurred - at least in the eyes of In-N-Out's legal team.
But "not so!" say brewery and distillery Seven Stills. The San Francisco-based company recently received a cease-and-desist letter from In-N-Out Legal, stating that they were violating the famous burger-makers trademarks.
Specifically, they were accused of copying the In-N-Out trademark name, logo and design for their Barrel-Aged Neapolitan Milkshake beer which they branded "In-N-Stout."
For this, we'll need to pull out some evidence, and we'll let you be the judge.
In-N-Out's trademark logo and palm tree design emblazoned on product containers:
Seven Stills' In-N-Stout beer can:
You know, there might be a resemblance going on here.
The ordeal began when Seven Stills posted a picture of their upcoming stout offering on Instagram as shown above. Seven Stills' co-founder Tim Obert chalked up the entire incident to the idea that they at the brewery "just try to really get creative" with their marketing efforts.
But even Obert was surprised with how quickly In-N-Out reached out to them:
“This was the fastest we’d ever got a cease and desist from somebody. They sent us that C&D basically the next day.”
I'd also like to call attention to the key sentiment in Obert's quote:
"This was the fastest we'd ever got a cease and desist from somebody."
No no, I know what you're thinking, and no, it's not the incorrect grammatical usage of the past perfect tense in the first clause! It's the self-declared implication that Seven Stills is no stranger to getting letters threatening lawsuits for copyright/trademark infringement.
What do I mean? Well, there are reports that whiskey distiller Makers Mark had to use the "sue" word in order to have Seven Stills cut out their blatant copying. But that wasn't the only case.
For example, who needs Swedish Fish to snack on, when you can just drink them in beer form?
And hey! It's fat-free!
It seems that his kind of "fast" marketing is Seven Stills' forte. For example, did you know that Kanye West is one of their spokespeople?
Neither did we. And you know, I have a feeling neither did Kanye:
Wow! Did you notice that they didn't even mention that Kanye was working with them in the picture's description.
I guess when something is just so obvious, explanation isn't really necessary.
Read more about the debacle at Thrillist.