October 3, 2018
Canadian coffee and baked goods chain Tim Hortons is reportedly considering legal action after becoming aware of an imitator café called “Tim Hottens” operating in Yamunanagar, India. A Tim Hortons spokesperson has reportedly stated that the company may take steps to shut down the imitator’s business.
Clearly, Tim Hottens bears a name similar to the Canadian brand. In addition, the Indian café features a similar font and logo on its sign, and uses Tim Hortons’ iconic “always fresh” slogan. One commentator has called Tim Hottens a “wholesale ripoff.”
Based on photos posted to the café’s Facebook page, it appears that Tim Hottens’ interior design and menu differ from the Canadian original. The imitator establishment features a darker, nightclub-style interior design, with waiters providing table service, and its menu includes burgers and alcohol, unlike the quick-service coffee-shop business model of Tim Hortons.
Based on Tim Hottens Facebook posts, it appears that it may have been in operation since early 2016. Facebook users generally gave the café favourable reviews, with an average of 4.6 stars out of 5.
Tim Hortons has faced similar incidents of brand imitation and potential trademark infringement in the past. In 2015, Canadian expats in South Korea spotted a café bearing the name “Tim House,” in font similar to the original logo, as well as “Tim Mortons” coffee being sold in a Korean market. Tim Hortons does not currently operate in South Korea.
Under Canada’s intellectual property regime, a trademark is a “combination of letters, words, sounds or designs that distinguishes one company’s goods or services from those of others in the marketplace.” Trademark protection, granted for renewable 15-year terms, is one method for businesses to preserve and profit from their corporate reputation and image.
A spokesperson for Tim Hortons’ parent company, Restaurant Brands International, reportedly stated that their concerns over the Tim Hottens imitator related to protecting perceptions of Tim Hortons’ quality and brand.
Author: Wes Dutcher-Walls