Property, intangible

a blog about ownership of intellectual property rights and its licensing

Zombie Brand Rising From the Dead?

I just watched the most recent episode of Mad Men, “The Strategy.” The “strategy” is for an advertising campaign for the Burger Chef chain of fast food restaurants. Here’s the closing shot of the episode, with Pete, Peggy and Don sitting in a Burger Chef:

Anyone eaten at a Burger Chef lately—anyone? According to Wikipedia, there aren’t any remaining stand-alone Burger Chef restaurants. The Hardee’s chain ultimately ended up with ownership of the brand, but its ownership was challenged by zombie reviver River West Brands (prior blog post here). In 2006 River West Brands filed its own application for BURGER CHEF and then petitioned to cancel two Hardee’s trademark registrations on the basis of abandonment.

Perhaps not coincidentally, a 2007 press release says that the Burger Chef branding was being revived for a “Big Shef” burger. River West Brands ultimately abandoned both its cancellation action and application, apparently capitulating to Hardee’s. In 2013 and 2014 Hardee’s renewed two of the original Burger Chef registrations with these specimens of use:

Specimen on USPTO website

From file wrapper at USPTO website

Hardee’s has also filed a new application for a BURGER CHEF mark.

So what do we make of the Burger Chef reference on Mad Men? I don’t think these things happen by coincidence; when Interstate Bakeries was in bankruptcy it used product placement in the movie Talladega Nights as free advertising for Wonder Bread. Are we seeing Burger Chef return from the dead?

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