McDonald's loses trademark fight to Malaysian McCurry

McDonald's loses trademark fight to Malaysian McCurry

McCurry restaurant owner A.M.S.P. Suppiah and his wife Kanageswary pose for a photo in front of their eatery as they celebrate a court victory over U.S. fast food giant McDonald's in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Tuesday. AP

A bench of Malaysia's Federal Court that announced a unanimous decision, also ordered McDonald's to pay RM10,000 ($2,853) in costs to McCurry, which has an outlet in Jalan Ipoh locality in the national capital.

"Our view is that the questions posed by McDonald's were not properly framed and the court should dismiss the leave application," said Chief Judge of Malaya Arifin Zakaria, who sat with Federal Court Judges Wira Mohammed Ghazali Mohammed Yusoff and James Foong.

The restaurant is owned by ethnic Indian P. Suppiah who had put 'Mc' back on the signboard of his shop April 30 after winning an earlier court ruling. The simple gesture marked the end of an eight-year David versus Goliath court battle against the US fastfood chain for Suppiah to retain the name of his Indian restaurant.

The Tuesday ruling by the Federal Court "ends all legal avenues for McDonald's to protect its name from what it said was a trademark infringement", reported Star Online, website of The Star newspaper. The court had adjourned the case Monday after finding that the questions raised by Mcdonald's lawyers were unclear and asked that they be rephrased.

McDonald's filed an application after the Court of Appeal April 29 ruled it was wrong to assume that McDonald's had a monopoly on the use of the prefix "Mc". During the court hearings, McCurry contended that McDonald's could not claim monopoly or exclusive rights to the use of "Mc" as that prefix was extensively used around the world as surnames, particularly by people of Scottish origin.

McDonald's asked the Federal Court for permission to appeal against that decision but was denied, said Bernama, the official news agency. On Sep 7, 2006, the Kuala Lumpur High Court held that McDonald's, a household name among children, had the exclusive right to the prefix 'Mc' and ordered McCurry Restaurant to pay damages to McDonald's Corporation, the proprietor of the McDonald's chain of restaurants.

McDonald's, in its statement of claim, said it created the prefix 'Mc' as a trademark and the usage of the prefix 'Mc' together with the word 'Curry' - McCurry Restaurant - had misrepresented itself as being associated with McDonald's business. The ethnic Indian community of about two million forms eight percent of Malaysia's multi-racial population of 28 million.