Chances are if a Texan heard that Whataburger was putting a food truck on the road they would jump three feet into the air with glee.It turns out though that there is a regional burger joint in the Carolinas called What-A-Burger that is soon rolling out a food truck of its own to sling burgers.
The Houston Chronicle recently discovered this through a Google alert and our hopes were up for about 30 seconds until we saw it was hundreds of miles from Texas and not in fact a part of the San Antonio-based company. But it did make us wonder if the East Coast burger chain was infringing on the Texas burger chain’s copyrights. As it turns out they had come to an understanding during the first Nixon administration. RELATED: Buc-ee's busts beaver-loving hill country store for using suspect signage Whataburger founder Harmon Dobson opened his first burger stand in Corpus Christi in August 1950. At the same time in Newport News, Virginia entrepreneur Jack Branch was opening a What-A-Burger. Branch’s place was open just a bit sooner than Dobson’s. Branch and his associates began opening additional locations in Virginia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. RELATED: Judge frees 'Happy Birthday' song from copyright claims It’s possible the similar names were just blowing in the wind, with Dobson and Branch somehow on the same wavelength hundreds of miles apart. RELATED: Copyright case pits Tejano musician and South Texas record label It wasn’t until 1970 that the two chains discovered the existence of each other. It appears that the two companies discussed around this time a merger of sorts where the Texas chain would license its name and corporate imagery to W-A-B. To this day W-A-B locations sport quaint décor and subdued colors, unlike WAB, which sports a brilliant orange paint job and architecture that can be noticed from outer space. In October, Whataburger corporate communications acknowledged What-A-Burger via email. “We are aware of What-A-Burger out of North Carolina and we have a co-existence agreement with them that dates back to the 1970s,” they wrote. According to a court case brought in front of the United States Court of Appeals in late 2003, at one point there was some question about the standing of the Virginia version of W-A-B. The case was reaffirmed in Feb. 2004 that the two chains could co-exist and both parties seemed to be satisfied. The court also decided that it was unlikely anyone would confuse the two chains. The closest Whataburger gets to the Carolinas or Virginia is a Thomasville, Georgia location.