Forget the separation of church and state; there's about to be a throwdown so big and messy that even Bobby Flay won't want to be involved. The International House of Pancakes (allegedly the first official IHOP) is suing the International House of Prayer (the alleged copycat IHOP) for trademark dilution and infringement. The original IHOP (of the pancake variety) has been using the famous initials since 1973 and isn't about to share, especially 37 years later.
While the two houses have practically nothing in common — it's a stretch to say that the House of Prayer's Communion resembles tiny pancakes — they do share the same initials and web address, distinguished only by a .com (IHOPancakes) versus a .org (IHOPrayer). However, the pancake house says that the prayer house's use of the four-letter logo is enough to cause “great and irreparable injury and confuses the public.” Furthermore, the nationwide pancake chain, famous for its never-ending stacks of pancakes and oddly-named breakfast items, accuses the prayer house of using the IHOP logo in an attempt to capitalize on the chain's established brand equity and customer loyalty. In layman's terms? They're basically trying to steal the pancake chain's thunder and use it for prayer's profit.
So why did the pancake house take so long to sue the prayer house, especially since the latter only came into being ten years ago? According to the Kansas City Star, IHOP (pancakes) spokesman Patrick Lenow said the suit was filed only after the prayer group refused repeated requests to stop using the trademark. More than that, the prayer house has apparently expanded and some of the branches are now serving food. No word on whether the menu includes a Rooty Tooty Fresh 'N Fruity or CINN-A-STACK Pancake Combo.
Christie Bishop also blogs for PardonMyCrumbs.com.