* DineEquity unit called church use of “IHOP” confusing
* Lawsuit dropped while mediation continues
By Jonathan Stempel
NEW YORK, Dec 30 (Reuters) - The pancake chain that sued a church for using its nickname without permission appears to have flipped its legal strategy.
The International House of Pancakes restaurant chain, known as IHOP, has ended its trademark infringement lawsuit against the International House of Prayer, citing “on-going mediation discussions” with the church.
IHOP had accused the church of choosing a name it knew would be abbreviated IHOP, with the intent of trading on the fame and reputation of the restaurant chain, which has used the acronym in marketing since 1973.
The chain alleged that the church misappropriated IHOP trademarks for its website www.ihop.org and in social media, its bible school IHOP University, various events and various ministries.
“Several persons have remarked that confusion exists,” an amended complaint filed Sept. 9 said.
IHOP, the chain, voluntarily dismissed its lawsuit on Dec. 21, according to a filing in federal court in Los Angeles.
The roughly 1,500-restaurant chain is a unit of Glendale, California-based DineEquity Inc (DIN.N). IHOP, the church, was founded in 1999 and is based in Kansas City, Missouri.
The case is IHOP IP LLC v. International House of Prayer et al, U.S. District Court, Central District of California, No. 10-06622. (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel. Editing by Robert MacMillan)