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Cheeseburgers in paradise?

Is There Room For 2 Cheeseburgers?

Singer Jimmy Buffett owns the Cheeseburger In Paradise trademark in the U.S., and Outback Steakhouse is developing the eponymous restaurant concept. But there remains another Cheeseburger In Paradise concept in Hawaii and Mexico. And the company that runs it wants Outback to know that it had better tread carefully.

"If Outback develops anything that infringes on our trade dress, there will probably be a lawsuit," warned Michael Conti, chief operating officer at Developing Partners, owner of three Cheeseburger In Paradise restaurants in Hawaii and Puerto Vallarta.

Developing Partners fought Buffett in court several years back over the Cheeseburger In Paradise trademark, and Buffett ultimately got it in a confidential settlement. But Developing Partners kept the rights to the name in Hawaii and abroad.

At the recent International Franchising Association show in Washington DC, Developing Partners rented an exhibit with a large sign showcasing the Cheeseburger In Paradise name.

"It's an international show," explains company president Laren Gartner.

Gartner adds that the company doesn't want any more fights with Buffett, or with Outback. But she says there could be trouble if Outback adopts Hawaiian themes for its version of Cheeseburger. She wouldn't elaborate on what that meant exactly.

"I'm assuming they're not going in a Hawaiian direction," she says. "I?m assuming they're not stupid."

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