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Friday May 1, 2009
By ROYCE CHEAH
KUALA LUMPUR: P. Suppiah cannot stop smiling as he stuck the alphabet ‘c’ back onto the signboard of his shop.
That simple gesture by the owner of McCurry, an Indian restaurant in Jalan Ipoh, marked the happy ending to his eight-year David and Goliath court case against US fast food giant McDonald’s.
For years, Suppiah’s outlet was known as M Curry as he fought a suit filed in 2001 by the fast food chain to stop him from using the ‘Mc’ prefix, claiming the name could cause confusion and lead people to associate his products with McDonald’s.
Suppiah lost the first round after the High Court ruled in McDonald’s favour in 2006. However, round two went to him on Monday when the Court of Appeal held that there was no evidence to show McCurry Restaurant was passing off McDonald’s business as its own.
“We were almost losing hope, but we are glad that the decision was in our favour,” Suppiah’s wife, Kanageswary, said.
The restaurant serves a variety of Indian food including tosai, roti canai, North Indian cuisine and common Western dishes like hot dogs.
Suppiah said the name of the restaurant was meant to be an abbreviation of Malaysian Chicken Curry, adding it was coincidental that it ended up with the ‘Mc’ prefix.
“McCurry is also an existing Scottish name,” he said, adding that their logo of a chicken with both thumbs up was also vastly different from the famed Golden Arches.
Regular customer, Mohd Radzi, said as long as the food was good, it did not matter what the name of a restaurant was. “But I am happy that justice has been served for a place where I can read my newspapers and enjoy good food.”
In its statement of claim, McDonald’s said it created the prefix ‘Mc’ as a trademark and that with the usage of the prefix ‘Mc’, together with the word ‘Curry’, McCurry Restaurant, which was formerly known as Restoran Penang Curry House (KL) Sdn Bhd, had misrepresented itself as being associated with McDonald’s business.
The Court of Appeal disagreed.
Judge Datuk Gopal Sri Ram, in delivering judgment, said McCurry’s Restaurant signboard would not result in reasonable persons associating McCurry with the McDonald’s mark.
He added that the fact that McCurry Restaurant chose the name ‘McCurry’, could not, by itself, lead to the inference that it sought to obtain an unfair advantage from the usage of the prefix ‘Mc’.
Still, the nightmare may not be over as McDonald’s still have the right to file an appeal against the decision in the Federal Court.
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