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Jack not so Hungry for Burger King, Allison Jackson, The Sydney Morning Herald

I have just recently studied in Australia, and one of the restaurants I frequently visited was Hungry Jack’s. Hungry Jack’s was identical to Burger King, same colors, the whopper, the whole nine yards. Except for one thing, the name, but what was weird is Australia also had Burger King’s. This has puzzled me since I have been back, but after a little bit of reading and research, I have found the answer to my puzzle. The problem begins with the difficulty of international trademarks.

In 171, a business entrepreneur named Jack Cowen negotiated the right to be the Australian franchisee of Burger Kings. But with the Burger King name already copyrighted, he went with “Hungry Jack’s”. Since then Mr. Cowen has seen Hungry Jacks grow to 0 franchised outlets. With Hungry Jack’s, being such a success, and Australia being a fast growing market Burger King wanted their share. “Burger King wanted Cowin to change the Hungry Jacks’s outlet to the Burger King brand when the copyright ended, though Cowen resisted.” Burger King then attempted to persuade franchisees to change from the Hungry Jack’s brand to the Burger King name. “A lengthy battle ensued, ending in June 001 with Burger King ordered by an Australian court to pay $75 million to Hungry Jack’s for breach of its franchise agreement.” Even after the legal battle, and bad blood between the two, Cowen wanted to merge his Hungry Jack’s franchise with Burger King.

Upon further research in the South Florida Business Journal, I found that Mr. Cowen was successful in his merging. The 81 current Burger Kings in Australia will be rebranded as Hungry Jack’s. In addition to the rebranding, Burger King has plans to start up another 100 new Hungry Jacks within five years. Burger King realized they messed up in the past, but new that the growing market for fast food in Australia was too good to refuse.

This article answered my puzzle, there were Hungry Jack’s because there was a trademark for Burger King’s name at the time of starting the franchise, and there were Burger King’s because that trademark had ended. Back in 171, when Cowen wanted start up a Burger King franchise, there had already been someone with the trademark Burger King. This could mean two things. One, a person knew that Burger King was going to be successful and bought the trademark rights to Burger King in Australia, before Burger King or any of its franchisee’s could. Two, someone already had a restaurant with the Burger King name. These are obstacles that companies have to overcome, in order to go international. It just shows how complicated and difficult it is for companies to go global or international. Every country has a different set of laws to overcome. In the case of Burger King, they avoided trademark laws in the 70’s when they came up with Hungry Jacks. But when the trademark ended they wanted all the restaurants to be renamed Burger King. The only problem with this is that the Hungry Jack’s name had been entrenched in the Australian fast food market. When Burger King tried to influence the Hungry Jack’s to change their name, they broke their franchise agreement and were sued. In the end Burger King realized it was better to cooperate with Cowen and Hungry Jack’s, and decided to change all the Burger Kings to Hungry Jack’s.

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