In-N-Out Burger has sued third-party delivery firm DoorDash for delivering the chain’s burgers without permission.
The Irvine, Calif.-based quick-service chain filed charges of trademark infringement and unfair competition in a lawsuit filed Nov. 6 in the U.S. District Court Central District of California.
In the complaint, attorneys for In-N-Out contend that DoorDash advertises that it delivers the chain’s food, although it is in no way affiliated and has not been authorized to do so.
In-N-Out said DoorDash’s delivery vehicles don’t comply with state food code requirements, and that the chain would not allow delivery of its food without the necessary food handling licenses and safety procedures in place.
In addition, In-N-Out has no control over the time it takes DoorDash to deliver, or over the temperatures at which the goods are kept during delivery, the complaint said.
The burger chain sent letters asking DoorDash to stop advertising In-N-Out delivery in April 2014, and the delivery firm did stop for a while, according to the lawsuit.
But DoorDash started advertising again earlier this year, even leaving flyers for delivery service in the chain’s restaurants. The most recent request to stop was sent in late September, but DoorDash did not respond, the complaint said.
The chain appears to be no longer listed on DoorDash’s website.
In a statement, DoorDash officials said, “DoorDash uses its innovative logistics technology to deliver the very best food and products in neighborhoods across the country. While we have various relationships with different merchants, we are proud to help people get their favorite food delivered directly to their door.”
Over the years, In-N-Out has been aggressive about protecting its trademark with lawsuits filed against copycat restaurant operators as well as other businesses attempting to use similar names. The lawsuits are typically settled or dropped.
Earlier this year, the chain sued the In ‘N Out Convenience store in South Carolina, for example.
The chain may have reason to be vigilant. This week, a Newport Beach, Calif. man was reportedly sentenced to two years in federal prison for fraudulently selling In-N-Out Burger franchises in the Middle East.