Industry News | July 10, 2000

Chick-fil-A Files Lawsuit Against Burger King

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Chick-fil-A, Inc. filed a lawsuit on June 30 in federal court in Atlanta's charging Burger King Corporation with trademark dilution, copyright infringement, and unfair competition.
Burger King's Chicken Run promotion urges customers to "Eat More Beef."


The legal action was taken by Chick-fil-A following the failure of Burger King to stop its new advertising campaign featuring animated chickens and asking its customers to "Eat More Beef." Chick-fil-A claims the campaign is copying elements of its long-running and well-known advertising campaign featuring cows pleading "Eat Mor Chikin®."

Chick-fil-A's charge is that Burger King's recent advertising spots promoting the animated movie, Chicken Run, and its related "Eat A Whopper" in-store promotions directly mimic Chick-fil-A's award-winning advertising campaign and "are a dilution of our trademarks and violate our copyright and trademark registrations." "We strongly feel Burger King's campaign is a blatant attempt to imitate, copy and 'rip-off' our famous Chick-fil-A cow ads," said Steve Robinson, senior vice president of marketing for Chick-fil-A, Inc.

In a letter dated June 29, Chick-fil-A demanded that Burger King cease and desist from running its recent Chicken Run advertising spots that mimic Chick-fil-A's five-year old campaign. Based on Burger King's lack of response, Chick-fil-A has filed the lawsuit that seeks an injunction and damages.

"The fully-integrated 'Eat Mor Chikin' campaign is the heart and soul of our business-wide marketing and promotional programs. Fortunately, it's been a very successful campaign, but unfortunately, lots of people have tried to copy it," added Robinson. "While imitation is always flattering, it is imperative that we protect our campaign's integrity by forbidding such blatant infringements. If Burger King wants to discourage its customers from eating its own chicken sandwiches, that is their business. When they unashamedly impersonate our trademarked concepts and copyrighted expressions, it becomes our business."

Since its debut in 1995, the "Eat Mor Chikin" cow campaign, created by Dallas-based The Richards Group, has attained critical success and recognition from the advertising community. The campaign's awards include three of the advertising industry's most prestigious awards: 1996 OBIE Award (outdoor advertising); 1997 Silver Lion-Cannes International Festival (outdoor advertising); and 1998 Silver EFFIE Award-New York American Marketing Association (creativity and effectiveness in advertising).

"We are sure Burger King is fully aware of our 'Eat Mor Chikin' campaign since it tied them for second place (Silver) for the 1998 EFFIE Award for creativity and effectiveness in advertising," stated Robinson. "We have valuable marks and rights here, and we must protect them."