Pancakes vs. Prayer: IHOP lawsuit filed Sept 2010

Posted: September 23, 2010 in Uncategorized

(Note from Ariel: This is a direct copy/paste from the Kansas City Star article.  The link to their site is at the bottom of this post.  The link is also located at the top of the blog site on the Research, Links & Sources pages under IHOP)

IHOP (the pancake-maker) sues IHOP (the prayer center) over trademark
The Kansas City Star

A sign at the entrance to the prayer room at the International House of Prayer helps keep a prayerful atmosphere. Now, the IHOP restaurant chain is suing the Kansas City-based religious group, alleging trademark dilution and infringement.

Pancakes and prayers — have we reached a point where even those two can’t get along?

Frankly, yes. So praise the Lord and pass the syrup, the International House of Pancakes and International House of Prayer are fixing to throw down.

IHOP (pancake), based in Glendale, Calif., has sued IHOP (prayer), based in Kansas City, for trademark dilution and infringement. The lawsuit, filed last week in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, essentially said there was room for only one IHOP and that would be the restaurant chain that has been using the initials since 1973.

The religious group drawing thousands from around the world to south Kansas City to prepare for “end times” was started just 10 years ago.

Other than an acronym, the two have nearly zilch in common.

The IHOP (prayer) on Red Bridge Road operates 24/7/365, sending a never-ending digital signal of prayers to Jerusalem, where it streams live on God TV for broadcast all over the world.

The other largely operates 24/7/365, too, but it is known for its pancakes, including a signature breakfast specialty called “Rooty Tooty Fresh ’N Fruity.”

But the chain, which has 1,476 restaurants across the country, claims it has six registered trademarks with the IHOP acronym and that the religious group’s use of the same four-letter logo causes, according to the lawsuit, “great and irreparable injury and confuses the public.”

The lawsuit further accuses the church mission of adopting the name International House of Prayer knowing it would be abbreviated IHOP — the intent being to misappropriate fame and notoriety of the food chain.

On Tuesday, IHOP (pancake) spokesman Patrick Lenow said the suit was filed only after the church mission refused repeated requests to stop using the trademark.

“We are compelled to protect the 350 small-business owners who own IHOP franchises and the IHOP good name that’s been around for 52 years,” Lenow said.

Thus the question, why sue now? The church mission started calling itself IHOP a decade ago.

“They’ve expanded — and now some of the branches are serving food,” Lenow said.

Among the seven defendants, four are in California where the suit was filed, including the Pasadena International House of Prayer. Although the suit also seeks attorney fees and costs of litigation, it does not ask for monetary damages.

Calls to IHOP (prayer) chief operating officer Mark Schumacher were not returned.

Gary Cooper, a former Houston attorney who until recently served as the mission’s chief financial officer, said the lawsuit lacked legal basis.

“I don’t think it will go anywhere,” Cooper, who serves on an IHOP board, said Tuesday by telephone from Oklahoma.

But Gary Hecker, a well-known intellectual rights attorney in Los Angeles and founder of the Hecker Law Group, said the court would probably side with the restaurant chain.

“Because of that extremely famous name, IHOP may well have the right to protect itself even well outside the scope of selling pancakes,” Hecker said Tuesday.

One defense might be that the two sides are so different that no confusion could exist.

Even so, Hecker said, “I would take the pancakes.”

IHOP (prayer) was started by a man named Mike Bickle, who by his own admission grew up in a Waldo bar and claims to have traveled to heaven twice.

The ministry is now planning to build a $150 million world headquarters — including IHOP University and a 5,000-seat conference center — along U.S. 71 in Grandview.

Again, IHOP (pancakes) got there first. One of the restaurants is across the highway.

To reach Donald Bradley, call 816-234-4182 or send e-mail to

(Click HERE to view the full article on the Kansas City Star website)

  1. Sara says:

    Hi there! I love your blog. I’ve commented in the past. I’ve been doing some research lately on the Masons/Mormonisim and their pyramid power structure system. My question for you (Ariel) would be this — while at IHOP, did you ever witness such behaviors associated with those in such pyramid type schemes? Most cults do function within that type of system, personally, I can see that type of thing going on within the charasmatic movement in general. Usually, the bottom of the pyramid is compromised of loyal followers/believers. They usually don’t know what goes on within the inner workings of the system, but continue to finacially support the system in hopes of gaining more “knowledge” as is in the case of Masons/Mormons. Those at the top who are spare, know another truth. Anywho, … thats all. Just curious what your input might be.

    • Ariel says:

      Hello again Sara! Thank you for writing. To answer your question, I did see the “pyramid” hierarchy at IHOP and it was one of the things I found to be most offensive when I was on staff. There was an unspoken but clearly marked distinction between those “high up” on the pyramid (the Mike Bickles, Allen Hoods, Misty Edwards, Julie Myers, Dewayne Roberts, and so on) and kind of medium grade staff and interns and then everyone else was at the bottom of the totem pole. There seemed to be a personal quest that everyone I interacted with was on. In the climb toward “oneness” with G-d, there was a parallel climb in rank and a desire to gain higher positions within IHOP. The “inner workings” of IHOP (the cogs and gears) that I saw while on staff shocked me and were quite different from the “outsider” perspective of just visiting, attending conferences and “marinating” for hours in the prayer room. Many who have been in those higher levels of staff can (and have) shared personal testimonies of things they were privied to and it truly is a “wizard behind the curtain” kind of place. Initially I thought it was complete ignorance on the part of leaders. But after being personally involved and talking to many, many others who were as well, I can no longer attribute things that go on at IHOP to mere ignorance. Hope this helps to answer your question. Feel free to e-mail me if you have additional questions. G-d bless!

  2. Snazzy Chick says:

    Wow, I just discovered your site. I am very sorry for all of the pain you experienced from your time as an intern. Fortunately for me, I did not have such an experience. My time there has been very fulfilling and fruitful.

    After reading a few of your posts and many of the comments, I can say without a bit of hesitation that I feel, well, hated.

    • Ariel says:

      Snaz, thanks for visiting and for taking time to comment. I did experience some difficult things back when I was in intern but G-d has certainly used them in the long term for good in my life and I have no pain now over what happened and hold no grudges or offenses toward those at whose hands the pain occurred. There are many, many people besides myself who have been through painful experiences through being involved with IHOP which I’m sure you’ve read in various comments. I assure you however that you are not hated…by myself or by readers of this blog. Many very wrong things have occurred in the name of “G-d” which is very sad but hatred is the byproduct of deep unforgiveness and bitterness. I hope you will find truth in the posts you read on this blog and read the stories of many people’s pain in their own words and just keep your eyes and heart open to the Father. Seek to know what is true above all else. Abundant blessings to you…

  3. Peter says:

    Interesting article, I wonder what IHOP will call itself if it no longer has its name (however, I think it will just consider this another attack from the “scoffers” and “mockers”). I feel pleased that you have posted again – it seems like forever since your last.

  4. Annunk says:

    When experience supercedes the written Word of God, you know you’ve arrived at a faulty doctrine.

    Regarding the Rooty Tootie IHOP restaurant, thanks to IHOP-the-cult, I’ve opted for Cracker Barrel instead – Mike Bickle has just “changed” my feelings about the IHOP name…and it makes the idea of walking in the door feel like a bad move!

  5. Jan says:

    I hope God uses this lawsuit to expose the sorcery, masonry, and New Age teachings of IHOP! SO many have lost loved ones due to the unBiblical teachings and mind control! Mike Bickle’s identical “Alice Bailey’ spirit realm messages are leading innocent God loving people away from the sufficiency of the written Word, in favor of ‘miracles, manifestations’ and a false “Rhema’! “Come out of her, my people!” Revelation 18:4