In-N-Out Sues Puma Over 'Drive Thru' Sneakers That Look Very Familiar
The SoCal-based burger chain that we love to love (and love to hate) is suing a popular shoe and clothing brand for allegedly ripping off its logo and colors.
On Friday, March 1, In-N-Out filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against Puma North America, Inc. over the Cali-0 Drive Thru sneakers.
Released in February 2019, the kicks are a collaboration with Los Angeles-based streetwear designer Mike Cherman, founder of Chinatown Market. He is named as a co-defendant in the suit.
The Cali-0 Drive Thru shoes, which retail for $90 on Puma's site, have an all-white lather upper, a double red line around the base, a red lining and a yellow puma against a red background on both the heel tab and the tongue.
But lots of sneakers are white and red. What's the problem? Maybe it's the laces. In some versions of the shoe, they feature red palm trees that look like dead ringers for In-N-Out's logo. Other versions of the shoe feature plain white laces. Still other versions feature mostly white laces with one strip of red palm trees.
Puma has tried to be clever with the Drive Thru sneakers.
In both the description of the shoes and their marketing, the company goes out of its way to avoid mentioning The Burger Chain Of Which We Do Not Speak while playing off its recognizability.
According to the official description of the shoe, "The Cali Drive Thru pays homage to this classic style and an essential part of the Cali lifestyle: its burger diners." Ah, yes. Our "burger diners." This is where you can tell Puma is a German company.
The sly In-N-Out references are more obvious in the three burger-themed videos Puma released on Instagram to promote the Drive Thru sneakers.
In-N-Out says no way, uh uh, you're not fooling anybody, Puma.
"By using In-N-Out's designs and trade dress, Puma and Cherman intentionally confused consumers for their own benefit and have also created the impression that our marks and unique trade dress are available for public use," Arnie Wensinger, executive vice president of In-N-Out Burger said in a statement to our media partner NBC4.
The suit -- 8:2019cv00413, if you want to play along -- was filed in the US District Court for the Central District of California.
In-N-Out BTW sells its own officially branded sneakers. They're canvas slip-ons that look like Vans and they feature the company's neon sign and palm trees silhouetted against a sunset on a black background. They cost $49.95.
It's not the first time the chain has sued to protect its brand.
In recent years, Irvine-based In-N-Out has sued a San Francisco brewery, competing chain Smashburger, an Australian burger chain and a prankster who pretended to be its CEO.
We're not legal experts, but we're putting our money on In-N-Out to win this fight, which means the Drive Thru sneakers might soon become collectors' items, which was maybe Puma's plan all along? Just a thought.
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