Plymouth pub issued 'cease and desist' order by US fast food giant

Plymouth pub The Colebrook Inn has been issued with a 'cease and desist' order by lawyers acting on behalf of a US burger chain. Credit: Plymouth Live

An American burger giant has served a Plymouth pub with a cease and desist order over their new burger menu.

Fast-food chain Smashburger, which operates more than 300 restaurants across the US, say people may be confused by The Colebrook Inn’s ‘Howey Smashed Burgers’.

The independently-owned pub, which is based in Plympton, has been serving the burgers as part of a new menu which launched during lockdown.

Staff even designed a logo for their new menu and applied for a design trademark, which prompted a response from Smashburger’s lawyers - who objected to the use of the word ‘Smashed’.

Smashburger's logos on the left and The Colebrook Inn's menu logo on the right. Credit: Plymouth Live

Manager Rob Naylor said: “It's frustrating because I'm not a global chain, [I'm] just trying to make a living and provide the local community with something different and keep staff employed.

A smashed burger is a process of cooking, not a brand.

Rob Naylor, The Colebrook Inn manager

Rob insists the name comes from his middle name Howard and the way in which the burgers are prepared and cooked.

Smashburger was founded in Colorado in 2008 and now has more than 300 corporate and franchise-owned locations in the US and abroad.

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The company has seven restaurants in the UK, including sites in Glasgow, Brighton and Newcastle - but none in the South West.

Legal firm Bird & Bird, acting on behalf of Smashburger, say the chain owns the trademark to its logo as well as the word ‘Smashburger’ - which they claim The Colebrook Inn has infringed.

A Smashburger restaurant in New York. Credit: PA

Their letter to the pub states: “Since its inception, our client has taken very seriously the protection of its brand and as a result, it owns several UK and EU registrations covering services for providing food and drink.

“There is no doubt that the Infringing Mark and our client's Smash Marks are highly similar, as the words SMASHBURGER and SMASHED BURGERS have a high level of similarity.

Further, you are using the Infringing Mark in relation to services that are identical to those covered by our client's Smash Marks and those provided by our client.

Bird & Bird letter to The Colebrook Inn

The pub has been told to respond or agree to the proposals in the letter by 19 November.

Rob has since issued a plea for anyone who can support the pub, or offer free legal advice, to get in touch.

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