Big Mac Chews Out Little Mrs McMunchie

Trade names: McDonald's yesterday told the owner of McMunchies sandwich shop in Fenny Stratford to remove her sign or face legal action

by Jojo Moyes; The Independent, 24th September 1996; UK

Good morning this is the news with Trevor Donald. The former Beatle Paul Cartney yesterday spoke of his meeting with the former Prime Minister Harold Millan, while wearing a Kintosh.

This is how the fast-food giant McDonald's would apparantly like the news read, if its latest foray into the legal system is anything to go by.

It has told a Scottish sandwich bar owner Mary Blair, that her shop in Fenny Stratford near Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, can no longer go by the name McMunchies because McDonald's is the registered user of the 'Mc'prefix, it emerged yesterday. Mrs Blair, a 36 year-old Scot who does not sell burgers or chips said she chose the name because she liked the word "munchies" and wanted to add a taste of Scotland. The sign bears a Scottish thistle and a St Andrew's flag.

But in a statement to Mrs Blair's solicitors, said if someone, "either deliberately or unintentionally", used their trademark, they were "(in effect) using something that does not belong to them." What next? The company that has quietly set about taking over the world ensuring that there is not a high street which does not feature its red and white sign and its golden arches (also the property of McDonald's) now wants to take over Britain's heritage.

Telling the Scots that they cannot use the prefix Mc is like someone registering the name Singh and then ban its use in India. Where do they think Mc originated - Illinois?

McDonald's say that the "unauthorised" use of the 'Mc' prefix may confuse the public."

As there is no longer a five-year-old in the Western world who cannot tell their Big Mac from their Whopper, their Chicken McNugget from their KFC Bargain Bucket, an egg and mayo on brown is hardly going to shake McDonald's stock.

But then the company with an apparent view on world domination appears to have lost its perspective when it comes to the little people.

The company is at present waging a marathon High Court libel action against the environmentalists Dave Morris, 42, and Helen Steel, 30, over a leaflet they distributed which, using the prefix 'Mc' against some less than pretty words accused the company of poisoning [sic] its customers and damaging the environment.

The trial may have done much more damage to McDonald's public image than the leaflet, which would likely have been seen by about six people had Ronald McDonald not marshalled his legal troops.

Now, it appears, the company is about to amke the same mistake again. And yet in terms of using names, McDonald's is perhaps being a little forgetful.

In June last year it was forced to climb down over its Route 66 restaurant promotion after Andre and Maraide Levy issued writ claiming damages over use of a registered trademark, in spite of saying that it would "vigourously defend" its right to use the name of the American Highway.

And perhaps it should ponder on the use of its prefix to indicate something far from its squeaky clean corporate image. Just as the farcical trial of Morris and Steel has become known as McLibel, the slang term now widely used to indicate low-grade, transitional employment is McJob. As far as the British public is concerned it is fast becoming a bit of a McJoke.

See also :
  • Scots Chef to defend his clan - The Herald, 7th October, '96; Scotland
  • Mr McDonald bites back - Independent, 30th Sept '96; UK
  • Corner shop faces McDonald's writ - The Times, 24th Sept 1996; UK
  • Big Mac puts bite on McMunchie - Daily Telegraph, 24th Sept '96; UK
  • Fed up to McTeeth with the son of a gun - Mirror, 28th Sept '96; UK

    Back to Media Page

    Press Index