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Burek King loses battle for the crown to Burger King

A black Burger King drive-thru entrance sign with the Burger King logo on the top: a blue circle with white in the middle, and two yellow half-circle ‘buns’ above and below the words ‘Burger King’ in big red font. The sign is in front of a fence, behind which can be seen a green, mountainous Swiss landscape.
The judges considered that consumers risked confusing the two trademarks because of the similarity of the names. Keystone / Urs Flueeler

Swiss-founded fast-food chain Burek King has lost out to American giant Burger King after the Swiss Federal Administrative Court confirmed the likelihood of confusion between the two brands. 

After opening their first restaurant in Lucerne in 2020, the two founders wanted to register the Burek King trademark with the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI) for services related to hotels and restaurants. Following opposition from Burger King, only a restricted registration was accepted. 

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The two restaurant owners appealed to the Federal Administrative Court, which upheld the IPI’s decision. The judges considered that consumers risked confusing the two trademarks because of the similarity of the names.  

Risk of assumed relationship 

The court added that, even though the products offered were different, the public could assume that there was an economic relationship between the two chains, as it is not uncommon in the sector for a company to extend its offering beyond its core business. 

Therefore, consumers could wrongly believe that Burger King was trying to reach a new target audience by offering bureks, the court found. Burek, or börek, is a patty filled with meat or vegetables originating from Turkey and the Balkans. 

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The judges in St Gallen also noted a similarity in the acronyms of the two companies, which could contribute to the confusion. In both cases, the word ‘king’ is written in large font and dominates the prefix Burek or Burger. 

Burek King’s action was therefore dismissed favouring Burger King, which could rely on its earlier registration in 1999 and being more widely known. 

Adapted from French by DeepL/kp/jdp

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