The iconic Burger King in Mattoon was the topic of a landmark legal battle with fast food chain Burger King. Here's how it started.
Gene and Betty Hoots, of Mattoon, bought the Frigid Queen ice cream shop at 1508 Charleston Ave. in 1952 and added hamburgers and other food.
The opened a restaurant in what had been the garage in 1957 and picked "Burger King," a decision that would become an ongoing legal battle.
Gene Hoots registered the name "Burger King" as a state trademark in Illinois in 1959.
Around the same time, another chain was operating as Burger King in Miami and was in expansion mode.
Burger King of Florida, Inc. opened its first restaurant in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1953.
In September 1962, the Hoots opened a restaurant in Charleston.
The Florida chain opened its first Illinois restaurant, in Skokie, in 1961 and had 50 eateries int he state by 1967.
The Hoots filed suit in state court, arguing that the trademark meant the national chain couldn't operate in Illinois.
The Florida company responded by filing a federal suit, Burger King of Florida, Inc. v. Hoots.
The federal court ruled in favor of the Florida company, but forbid it from coming within 20 miles of the Mattoon Burger King.
"We affirm the judgment restraining the defendants from using the name 'Burger King' in any part of Illinois except in their Mattoon, Illinois, market, and restraining plaintiffs from using their trade mark in the market area of Mattoon, Illinois," the court ruled.
The decision set a precedent in trademark law and the Lanham Act, which determines trademark infringement and false advertising.
The Burger King today is known for burgers, pork tenderloin, the pronto pup, lemon cones and other treats.
In 2017, Ernie Drummond became owner. He started at Burger King in 1977 as a grill cook.
Today, the closest other Burger King to Mattoon is in Tuscola.
The Charleston Police Department has recruited a part time officer to help with community outreach during the Christmas season. This officer is named "Doughnut," and stands about 10 inches tall, wears red head to toe, and is quiet but watchful.
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