Big brands that lost trademark fights to crafty – and smaller – overseas rivals

(4) McDonald’s

In 2009, McDonald’s lost an eight-year trademark battle to stop a restaurant in Malaysia calling itself McCurry, with the country’s federal court saying the fast food giant could not appeal against another court’s verdict that had allowed the restaurant to use the “Mc” prefix.

Malaysia’s highest court agreed – and ruled that McDonald’s couldn’t appeal the verdict in a precedent-setting judgement.

The ruling by a three-member panel ended all legal avenues for McDonald’s to protect its name from what it said was a trademark infringement. And McDonald’s even had to pay £1,760 to McCurry.

McCurry lawyer Sri Devi Nair said the ruling meant McDonald’s didn’t have a leg to stand on when it came to its prefix “Mc,” which meant other restaurants shouldn’t be discouraged from using it as long as bosses distinguished their food from McDonald’s.

The Appeal Court said McCurry’s signboard had white and grey letters against a red background with a picture of a smiling chicken giving a double thumbs-up, in contrast to McDonald’s red and yellow “M” logo. This, the court said, made it further evident that there would be no confusion of the two food businesses.

Meanwhile, McCurry, which serves Indian food, is an abbreviation for Malaysian Chicken Curry, the company said.

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