As widely reported, McDonald's Corporation, the multinational fast food chain, has lost an eight-year trademark infringement dispute with a small Indian restaurant in Malaysia.
The McCurry restaurant in Kuala Lumpur was challenged on its use of the prefix "Mc", which is associated with many of the American company's products. Similarities in the sign displayed on the restaurant to McDonald's own were also alleged, and that McCurry was, as a consequence, "passing off" McDonald's business as its own.
The Malaysian High Court dismissed McDonald's request to appeal the judgment handed down by the Appeal Court in April, which had ruled there was no evidence that McCurry was guilty of such infringement. There were a number of distinguishing features, namely that McCurry sold Indian food and not burgers like McDonald's, that the restaurant's sign displayed a logo featuring a chicken and the name "Malaysian Chicken Curry" rather than the familiar yellow "M" logo. It was also upheld that McDonald's does not hold a monopoly on the prefix "Mc" in Malaysia.
This case highlights the need to be cautious in using a name or logo with similarities to well-known brands. Companies should take into account the nature of their business and the likelihood of people confusing the brand with others, before advertising their business.