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03/12/01 . by Julia Day . Guardian . UK
What's Eating Big Mac?
Everybody knows what McDonald's stands for - burgers, fries, chicken McNuggets and seemingly pointless and exorbitant court cases in defence of its globally omnipresent brand.
The fast food giant made one of the biggest legal mistakes of the century in suing environmentalists Dave Morris and Helen Steel, the McLibel pair, who were celebrated for their plucky David vs Goliath chutzpah. Even though it won overall, the court case cost McDonald's 10m pounds and severely damaged its reputation.
None the less the US multinational continues to plough ahead with legal challenges aimed at protecting its trademark and brand against everyone from a greasy spoon cafe in Stourbridge to a keebab house in Cardiff.
Last week it lost a landmark ruling in the High Court when restauranteur Frank Yuen won a nine year battle to trademark his McChina fast food outlets. Yuen filed his application in 1992 but by 1995 McDonald's had opposed the mark on the grounds that consumers would be confused, and that it contravened its ownership of the trademark "Mc".
Mr Justice Neuberger disagreed and his ruling allows Yuen to realise his
dream of building a nationwide chain of Chinese restaurants. The judge also
berated McDonaldd's for "virtually seeking to monopolise all names and words
with prefix Mc or Mac".