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L&L defends noodle-bun burger launch

By Erika Engle

LAST UPDATED: 3:14 p.m. HST, Feb 4, 2014

L&L Drive-Inn today said it regrets the recent flap over the launch of its ramen burger but will push ahead with selling the item in all 182 restaurants. 

They will be called saimin burgers in Hawaii.

L&L clarified its use of a video showing preparation of a trademark-pending Go Ramen Burger by Jeff Shimamoto and his wife. 

The video was sent as an attachment to an L&L newsletter sent to franchisees and major vendors, the L&L statement said.

"We regret any confusion that may have been caused by our internal newsletter that may have been electronically forwarded without our consent," it said.

"It was not L&L's intent to convey that somehow these individuals or entities have endorsed or approved L&L's products, or somehow affiliated with L&L in any form or fashion."

Jeff Shimamoto is the brother of Keizo Shimamoto, the chef credited with popularizing the burger with buns made of ramen noodles in the U.S.

Also an attorney, Jeff Shimamoto told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser yesterday he was contemplating legal action over L&L's unauthorized use of his likeness and that of his wife in their marketing materials.

The L&L newsletter dated Friday also contained a poster of the saimin burger it launched in Honolulu last week, which will be marketed as a ramen burger at L&L's mainland locations.

Jeff Shimamoto said the legal issue he may pursue was not one of trademark infringement.

L&L co-founder Eddie Flores today told the Star-Advertiser that it is his belief that the term "ramen burger" is generic and that the company is contemplating filing opposition to the trademark application filed by Keizo Shimamoto in August.

Meanwhile, Flores said his trademark application also has been filed at the national level.

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