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04/12/01 . Keith Parkins . . UK  
McChina v McDonald's  
'They are virtually seeking to monopolise all names and words with prefix Mc or Mac.'
  -- Justice David Neuberger

'It's lucky they sell only fucking hamburgers.'
  --Dave Morris, McLibel co-defendant

The McLibel case is taught in all business schools as the classic case of how not to go about it. McDonald's took on London Greenpeace for handing out a leaflet which simply told what is common knowledge, that McDonald's are crap food joints, that serve crap food, with poor working conditions for their staff. McDonald's served libel writs and lost big time. In losing they generated millions of dollars of bad publicity for themselves and exposed to a much wider audience just how bad McDonald's are.

Once a bully always a bully.
McDonald's clearly learnt nothing from their bruising encounter with Helen Steel and Dave Morris, the McLibel co-defendants. For the last nine years McDonald's have been bullying a small Farnborough restaurateur, the proprietor of Wings Chinese restaurant on Alexandra Road in North Camp, Farnborough. The heinous crime of Frank Yuen, proprietor of the small family business was that he had opened a handful of Chinese takeaways, one in Wimbledon called McChina, then a couple of years later two more, a McChina Wok Away in Camberley and a McChina Wok Away in Farnborough. According to good old Ronald McDonald his trademark had been infringed, customers may become confused. It is difficult to see how as one serves food, and we are not thinking of McDonald's.

After nine years of being bullied and terrorised by McDonald's Mr Yuen has won a stunning victory in the High Court. Mr Justice David Neuberger, and no we are not making up the name, ruled that the McChina name would not deceive or cause any confusion among customers. He also ruled that Ronald McDonald had no right to the prefix Mc and told the court: 'This is supported by the fact that there is no similarity between China on the one hand and, on the other hand Donald.'

According to Mr Yuen's solicitor he is the first person in Europe to break Ronald's stranglehold on the Mc trademark.

Mr Yuen has achieved his fifteen minutes of fame. He has had media interest from as far afield as CNN, Hong Kong and China.

Mr Yuen is not the only person to suffer from playground bully Ronald McDonald. Apart from years of harassing anyone of Scottish decent who dares to put their own name across their own food shop or restaurant, McDonald's have also sued McAllan's sausage stand in Denmark, the Scottish-themed sandwich shop McMunchies in Buckinghamshire, gone after Elizabeth McCaughey's McCoffee shop in San Francisco Bay Area and waged a twenty-six-year battle against a man called Ronald McDonald whose McDonald's Family Restaurant in a tiny town in Illinois has been around since 1956.

Not a good year for McDonald's. They have been prosecuted in Camberley for the worst case in the country of child exploitation, been awarded the Mouldy Pork Pie Award by the BBC Radio 4 Food Programme, seen their profits fall, and been forced to face closure of their food outlets due to falling profits and falling customer demand.

Jose Bove and Francois Dufour, The World is Not for Sale, Verso, 2001

Naomi Klein, No Logo, Flamingo, 2000

Stephen Lloyd, Where there's Mc there's brass: McChina wins verdict over McDonald's, Farnborough News, 30 November 2001

Eric Schlosser, Fast Food Nation: What the All-American Meal is Doing to the World, Allen Lane/The Penguin Press, 2001

John Vidal, McLibel: Burger Culture on Trial, The New Press, 1997

Robin Young, Chinese nugget beats big Mac, The Times, 28 November 2001  
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