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A mediator will decide whether Burger King can call its product a steak burger — or if competitor Steak ‘n Shake Co. has exclusive rights to the term. A federal judge Wednesday declined Steak ‘n Shake’s request to block Burger King’s “Angus Steak Burger” on the grounds it infringed on the restaurant chain’s “steakburger” trademark. In a ruling, U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry ordered the two chains to meet with a mediator by September to resolve the dispute. David Milne, Steak ‘n Shake’s general counsel, said the company might appeal the decision. Officials from Burger King did not return a phone message seeking comment. Steak ‘n Shake’s own burgers aren’t really steak. Still, the Indianapolis-based company has for more than 70 years used the steak reference in its slogan — “Famous for Steakburgers” — and advertisements. In December, Steak ‘n Shake president Peter Dunn sent a letter to Burger King president Bob Nilsen asking that Burger King not infringe on the “steakburger” trademark. When that failed to derail the “Angus Steak Burger,” Steak ‘n Shake went to court, filing a lawsuit in May, days after the sandwiches made their debut. Miami-based Burger King countered that “steak” and “burger” are generic terms. Steak ‘n Shake has 418 restaurants in 18 states. Burger King is the No. 2 fast-food chain after McDonald’s Corp. with more than 11,000 restaurants worldwide. Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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