Burger bar vows to battle to keep its big whopper

BY ANDREW BOARD
Last updated 13:00 07/05/2010
Carole and Bernt Hofberg
MARION VAN DIJK
LOTTA WHOPPER: Carole and Bernt Hofberg of Seabreeze City Takeaways.

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The "battle of the whoppers" is set to become a whopper war.

Fast food giant Burger King has warned it will consider taking legal action to protect its "valuable intellectual property rights" if Nelson's Seabreeze City Takeaways doesn't change the name of its whopper burger.

The owners, Carole and Bernt Hofberg, are now hitting back.

"We won't concede without a fight," Mrs Hofberg said.

Their lawyer, Tony Bamford of Bamford Law, doesn't buy Burger King's argument that using the whopper name creates confusion between "this little takeaway (bar)" and the multi-national chain.

"Frankly that proposition is ludicrous."

But that doesn't alter the fact that Burger King has rights to the whopper name under trademark, Mr Bamford said.

He is looking further into the matter and hopes to come up with a satisfactory resolution.

"Getting involved in litigation with a corporation like that is impossible simply because they (the Hofbergs) don't have the resources to fund it, irrespective of the rights and wrongs; there is a huge economic imbalance," he said. "Hopefully we can sort it out before it gets that far."

The burger was introduced at Seabreeze by its former owners 12 years ago.

Mrs Hofberg said Seabreeze sold out of its whopper burger the day after news broke about Burger King's legal threats. "We even sold out of buns yesterday and had to turn people away."

The enormous support – including a Facebook group that has attracted 58 members – has spurred the Hofbergs on.

Mrs Hofberg said "dozens of people" had visited the shop to offer support and two people had emailed Burger King's New Zealand head office.

Both emails received the reply: "This action was instigated by Burger King Corporation out of their Singapore office and we have not been party to the communications between Burger King Corporation, their lawyers, and Seabreeze City Takeaways."

"How the heck could they know in Singapore what we have on our menu? It must have come from Nelson," Mrs Hofberg said.

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- The Nelson Mail

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