Monday, May 4, 2009

Malaysian Chicken Curry vs. the Big Mac

In a world where corporate giants and the ‘big boys’ typically roll over the underdog, I must admit it was heart-warming to see the story of Kanages Suppiah’s court victory against the McDonald’s corporation over the former’s use of the name ‘McCurry’ for his restaurant. Apparently claiming exclusive trademark rights to the prefix ‘Mc,’ the corporate giants had gone after a regular proprietor to supposedly protect their corporate name. 

After an eight-year protracted legal flip and flop, and with the Court of Appeal coming down on the side of McCurry, one is left wondering exactly why the fast-food giant has been making such a big fuss about the matter. Of course I’m all for protecting property and trademark rights. But there are also instances in which one must be reasonable, and to me it seems like the high-powered lawyers at McDonald’s have clearly lost all perspective and sense of being reasonable.

I think most reasonable people can appreciate the principle that the corporation’s trademark is “McDonald’s”, and not ‘Mc’. That being the case, the law should just not allow ridiculous and unreasonable claims that therefore, even a prefix in a name becomes exclusive and a protected name. Second, any reasonable person should also be able to appreciate that nothing about McCurry’s restaurant business comes close to the Filet-O-Fish, Ayam Goreng McD, Big Mac, or even the Spicy Chicken McDeluxe one finds at the fast food chain.

If ever these McDonald’s lawyers decide to go to Federal Court with this case, I for one sure hope the judges use some good old fashion common sense to the law and recognise that not even a moron could confuse ‘Restoran McCurry’ with McDonald’s. Surely there’s no plausible way that the former could represent any illegal appropriation of the McDonald’s trademark.

Just maybe, as these lawyers sit around and inhale their Double Cheeseburgers and plot their next move, they can try to think of some better things to do with their time. (I personally would suggest they head over to Restoran McCurry and try some of the roti canai.)    

G. Krishnan