Brian Tipps didn't have any restaurant experience at all before he opened the Heart Attack Shack in East Ridge, Tennessee last month. Fortunately, the owners of Las Vegas' notorious Heart Attack Grill are giving him an early lesson in intellectual property law. Attorneys for the Grill have filed a lawsuit against Tipps, alleging that his Heart Attack is infringing upon their own trademark, because when it comes restaurants serving food that may or may not kill you immediately upon consumption, there can be only one.
"[The Heart Attack Grill] is a medically themed restaurant with high caloric food products, including a restaurant name that connotes a catastrophic medical condition," the lawsuit says, according to Law 360. "[The menu has] aggressive, heart condition or heart-attack style medical terms."
The lawyers aren't wrong: The Heart Attack Grill's menu reads like a cardiologist's wishlist, with a quadruple bypass burger (add 20 slices of bacon for $3.70 more), a half-pound coronary hot dog and Flatliner Fries, proudly cooked in pure lard. Customers who weigh more than 350 pounds—before their meal—are invited to eat free. The Heart Attack Shack's medical terminology seems to be limited to the EKG in its logo, although a late February preview of the restaurant in the in the Times Free Press did mention the restaurant's Flatliner XL fries. (That'll make the Grill's attorneys' mouths water).
Whether or not the Heart Attack Grill has a case is up to someone in an shapeless black robe to decide, but it's nice to see the restaurant making headlines for something other than a real-life heart attack. In February 2012, a diner had an apparent heart attack while eating a Triple Bypass Burger at the restaurant and, two months later, a female customer collapsed in the middle of her meal. "She was eating a double-bypass burger, smoking cigarettes, and having a margarita," owner John Basso told ABC News.
And because Basso is a delight, a year later, he was doing interviews while carrying around a plastic baggie filled with the cremated remains of a customer who died at the restaurant. "I say it boldly," he told Bloomberg TV. "Don't come to my restaurant, it is bad for you and will kill you."
The Heart Attack Grill has not stated whether it is seeking damages from Tipps and his Shack, and a court date has not been set. The Heart Attack Grill has previously lost a similar trademark-related lawsuit; in 2012, a judge ruled that the 2nd Avenue Deli in Manhattan could continue to serve its own Instant Heart Attack and Triple Bypass sandwiches, as he believed that even the dumbest customers could tell the difference between kosher latke sandwiches and ginormous cheeseburgers.
MUNCHIES has reached out to both the Grill and the Shack for comment.