McDonald's wins trademark battle
in South Africa.

Johnson Publishing Company

Jet; Sep 23, 1996

The fast-food restaurant chain McDonald's won't have to worry about copycat competitors in South Africa anymore.

An appeals court ruled that South African competitors of McDonald's are prohibited from using the fast-food chain's world-famous name and golden arches symbol.

The court in Bloemfontein said South African law protected well-known foreign trademarks "whether or not such person carries on business, or has any goodwill" in South Africa.

McDonald's opened its first South African restaurant in Johannesburg last year, but local entrepreneurs tried to capitalize on the publicity by claiming ownership of the McDonald's trademark and opening restaurants with similar symbols and names.

A lower court threw out McDonald's trademark last year and allowed one South African hamburger restaurant chain to use the name MacDonald's and another to use symbols similar to McDonald's on its fast-food outlets. But McDonald's obtained a temporary court order barring the copycat restaurants until the appellate ruling.

Clifford Green, attorney for McDonald's Corp. in the case, said the judgment "brought South Africa in line with international intellectual property protection." Green also said that the ruling should help Cape Town's bid to host the 2004 Olympics because it would alleviate worries of potential sponsors.

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