The International House of Pancakes is suing the International House of Prayer for using the IHOP acronym that the pancake flippers made famous. According to Time, the 10-year-old Kansas City spiritual center, "which continuously streams digital prayers to Jerusalem, where the prayers are then broadcast on television," has "repeatedly refused requests to change their name." Though this conflict has its own peculiar flavor, it's hardly unique in the annals of branding history. Here, some of the more famous showdowns:
McDonald's vs. McPuddu's
The battle: McDonald's has protected the "Mc-" prefix in the courts many times, but some consider its fight with a tiny Sardinian snack bar named McPuddu's its pettiest move yet. Owner Ivan Puddu became an "unlikely hero" for anti-McDonald's food campaigners, says Tom Kington in The Guardian, when the burger behemoth threatened legal action earlier this year. "Puddu pointed out that his speciality — a Sardinian form of stuffed pasta filled with local sheep's cheese, potato and mint — was unlikely to be confused with a Big Mac."
The result: Unable to afford a lawyer, Puddu nailed a plank over the "Mc" on his storefront sign and added the word "censored." That's a shame, says Carlo Petrini, president of the Italian Slow Food, as quoted in The Guardian. "I am sure that, in court, McDonald's would lose this."
WWF vs. WWF
The battle: The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has taken the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) to court twice over the use of its three-letter acronym. The conservation group, known as WWF since 1961, successfully retained the rights in 1994. But the wrestling giant did not fully relent until the nature charity went to the courts for a second round in 2000.
The result: The wrestling federation changed its moniker to World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) in 2002, and brazenly turned its forced rebranding into a promotional opportunity, adapting the slogan "Get the F Out."
VW vs. VW
The battle: Volkswagen took Virginia-based internet-access company VirtualWorks to court in 2000 over the use of the initials VW. The German automaker alleged that VirtualWorks' owner and sole employee, James Anderson, approached it in 1998 with a high-pressure offer to buy his website's domain name, VW.net.
The result: Volkswagen successfully argued that Anderson was guilty of cyberpiracy and trademark theft, a "sign," said Patricia Jacobus at CNet, that judges are "picking Goliath over David in net name disputes." VW.net now takes internet surfers to the carmakers' website, while the URL that a chastened Anderson chose — Surebuy.com — appears to be defunct.
Macedonia vs. Macedonia
The battle: When the small European country of Macedonia emerged from the wreckage of post-Tito Yugoslavia in 1991, Greece refused to acknowledge the newly-independent republic, pointing out that one of its coastal regions, also known as Macedonia, snagged the name first. Despite high-level mediation attempts, Greece's ongoing opposition has complicated "the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM)" (as it's sometimes known provisionally) from gaining entry to the UN and the European Union.
The result: The Macedonian and Greek prime ministers have been holding direct talks over the matter since November 2009. A resolution — which might see Macedonia add the word 'Vardar' to its name — is reportedly not far off.