McCurry win adds to McDonalds list of trademark losses
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McCurry win adds to McDonalds list of trademark losses

Bar & Bench

McDonald has lost to the underdog, again, with the Malaysian Federal court ruling that the ‘Mc’ in Malaysian fast food restaurant McCurry does not constitute misrepresentation in relation to McDonald’s trademark.

This is not the first time the global fast food chain has gone up against local enterprises. McDonalds, which has consistently pursued an aggressive trademark protection policy, has a long history of trademark infringement suits.

McDonald has lost to the underdog, again, with the Malaysian Federal court ruling that the ‘Mc’ in Malaysian fast food restaurant’s McCurry does not constitute misrepresentation in relation to McDonald’s trademark. “In my judgment, the irresistible inference to be drawn from the totality of the evidence is that McCurry’s Restaurant signboard would not result in reasonable persons associating McCurry with the McDonald’s mark,” said the apex court, speaking through Justice Datuk Gopal Sri Ram. The Court also ordered McDonalds to pay costs of 10,000 ringgit ($2,846) to McCurry, thereby concluding the eight-year battle.

McCurry, a small fast food restaurant in Kuala Lumpur serving Indian food, had argued before the court that its name was an abbreviation of Malaysian Chicken Curry, and that its menu bore no resemblance to the fast food served by the global giant. McDonald’s counsel Wong Sai Fong, Managing Partner of leading Malaysian firm Shearn Delamore & Co, declined to comment on the judgment. However, McCurry’s lawyer, Sri Dev Nair was jubilant about the decision, saying, “”It is the end of the road for McDonald’s. McCurry can use the prefix.”

This is not the first time the global fast food chain has gone up against local enterprises. McDonalds, which has consistently pursued an aggressive trademark protection policy, has a long history of trademark infringement suits. In 1995, when McDonalds entered the Jamaican market, it attempted to force a local restaurant serving curried goat and jerk chicken, called ‘McDonald’s’ to change its name. The Jamaicans countersued, and a court ordered the U.S. chain to operate under the name Golden Arches for five months. McDonalds also failed in its attempt to force a coffee chain to refrain from using the word McBeans to sell coffee, and in a lawsuit against a UK chain of takeaway outlets called McChina Wok Away.

However, McDonalds has had better luck with its trademark disputes in India. Sanitary tiles trading company, P.C. Mallappa and & Co filed a trademark infringement suit against McDonalds for use of the letter ‘M’ in its famous golden arches logo. P.C. Mallappa claimed that it had registered the design first in India, without being aware of the existence of McDonalds. McDonald’s succeeded in obtaining an injunction order restraining the Bangalore-based company from using its famous ‘M’ logo to sell its sanitary ware. On an appeal to the Karnataka High Court by P.C. Mallappa, the Court held that the appellant was not a manufacturer, but a trader in goods and bearing an imitation of the respondent’s famous registered trademark ‘M’ would amount to an infringement.

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