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Do Tim Hortons And Burger King Trademark Policies Clash?


I don’t know about all this tax inversion business, but will the pairing of Tim Hortons and Burger King create a branding diversion for one or the other of them?

Tim Hortons seems to prefer mostly simple names, while Burger King owns a lot of its own coined trademarks.  Will Tim’s convert to a more King-like approach, or will BK revert to some more simple product names?

Our firm does a lot of work in the restaurant world. From a trademark perspective, this merger looks like a giant culture clash.   In this corner, we have Tim Hortons, which has breakfast offerings which sport names like the “Hot Breakfast Sandwich,” “Homestyle Oatmeal,” along with their imaginatively-named “muffins” and “donuts.” The company is not without its trademarks, however, including bite-sized “Timbits” (think munchkins if you are Dunkin’-oriented consumer) and even its “Bagel B.E.L.T.” (Bacon Egg Lettuce Tomato).   They have been featuring the idea that “Every Cup Tells a Story,” and imploring customers to make a “Timmy Run” at coffee break time.

English A drive thru only Tim Hortons locatio

A drive thru only Tim Hortons location in Moncton (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the other corner, there is not only the home of the “Whopper,” but we find the “Big King” sandwich, the “Rodeo Burger,” the “Tendercrisp” and “Tendergrill” chicken sandwiches, the “MorningStar” veggie burger, and, of course, the “Croissant’wich.”

Burger King owns, or has owned, hundreds of trademark registrations in the United States over the years, and a similar large number in Canada. Marks like “Flame Grill” and “Home Of Flame Broiling” characterize Burger King’s trademark legacy. Tim Hortons has opted to register marks like “Great Coffee Every Time” and “Where Quality Beats Value.”

Does their approach to product offerings and brands make a much larger statement about corporate cultures and difficulties in merging the two?  Will they even try?

No one is going to do an $11 Billion merger just to start selling “Whopper Timbits” (an oxymoron, right?) or to run up the benefit of “Flame Broiled Coffee.” Does a company’s trademark or product name selection make a statement about how it runs its company, or just about how it brands itself?  Stay tuned.  Remember:every cup tells a story.

This article originally appeared on Forbes

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