Don't mess with the silver and black -- or their trademarks. The NFL has filed an Oakland Raiders lawsuit against a beloved local hamburger chain, claiming trademark infringement and false advertising.
Yes, it seems the litigious legacy of the late Raiders owner Al Davis lives on.
The latest Oakland Raiders suit targets a giant billboard by Nation's Giant Hamburgers, popular in and around Oakland for more than 50 years. The ad, adjacent to the Raiders' home stadium, implores passersby: "When Hunger Hits, Raid a Nation's."
The ad also pictures a giant, juicy Nation's burger -- with an eyepatch that evokes the Raiders pirate logo, the Bay Area News Group reports.
NFL lawyers say they're tackling a serious issue. Both the eyepatch burger and the "Raid a Nation's" slogan are confusing consumers, they argue in a federal lawsuit filed Dec. 2.
"The unmistakable, overall message is that Nation's and the Raiders have a marketing or sponsorship relationship of some kind when, in fact, the opposite is true," the Oakland Raiders lawsuit states.
The NFL also claims the slogan "Raid a Nation's" is "phonetically indistinguishable" from "Raider Nation," a trademark owned by the Oakland franchise, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Trademark infringement laws are aimed at preventing consumer confusion -- for example, customers not understanding which company they're buying a product from.
In Nation's defense, the chain's lawyers could try to argue there's no way a customer would confuse a burger joint with an NFL franchise. The chain may also point out there's no overlap between their customers, and that the businesses currently coexist without confusion.
NFL lawyers say they tried to resolve the issue out of court, but Nation's wouldn't budge regarding their "ambush advertising."
Raider Nation seems divided on the Nation's billboard debate, with fans of both football and Nation's burgers saying there's no reason to bust their buns.
But NFL lawyers seem to feel differently about the Oakland Raiders lawsuit. As Al Davis himself might say: Just win, baby.
- Raiders sue hamburger chain, say they ripped off their trademark (NBC Sports)
- Nation's Giant Hamburgers (Official Website)
- Top 10 Reasons to Register Your Trademark (FindLaw)
- Browse Trademarks Lawyers by Location (FindLaw)