In-N-Out sues Michigan fast food chain for copying appearance

 Cars line up in the drive thru at an In-n-Out restaurant on October 28, 2021 in Pleasant Hill, California.
Cars line up in the drive thru at an In-n-Out restaurant on October 28, 2021 in Pleasant Hill, California. Photo credit Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

In-N-Out Burger is often imitated, but never duplicated. As it turns out, sometimes it’s imitated a little too much.

The west coast burger empire is suing a Michigan fast-food chain called "Doll n' Burgers" for copying its likeness, according to a report from the Daily Telegram.

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The chain opened in 2020 in Tecumseh, Michigan and later opened a second location in Jackson, Michigan. In-N-Out is arguing that the restaurant has copied its trade dress.

According to the outlet, In-N-Out said in its lawsuit that Doll n' Burgers copied its white, red and yellow color scheme, including through its awning, the countertops, upholstery on the furniture, collared shirts, aprons, ball caps, paper hats, and cups. In addition, it claims Doll n' Burgers uses the same classic car motif, open ended burger wrappers, layout of the menu boards and the single "N" in its name.

Doll n' Burgers filed a motion in response refuting the suit, the outlet said, citing that several restaurant chains like "Burger King, McDonald’s, Five Guys, Wendy's, Sonic, Checkers and Carl's Jr." use similar color combinations, menu layouts , interiors, exteriors, cups, wrappers and uniforms. It also claimed other restaurants like "Steak N' Shake" use the "N" in the middle of their name.

The name Doll n' Burgers is a play on the owner’s name, Justin Dalenger.

Both restaurants reportedly hired marketing experts to analyze how likely it was that customers would get the two burger stops confused. Doll n' Burgers' marketing specialists said there was a 0% chance of customers getting confused, while In-N-Out’s said there was a 49% chance of that happening.

When reached for comment, a spokesperson for In-N-Out told KCBS Radio that "due to litigation we will have no response."