LONDON – A Chinese restaurateur won his battle Tuesday to call a chain of fast-food restaurants McChina, despite claims by McDonald's that the name infringed on its trademarks.
Frank Yuen opened his first McChina restaurant in 1991, but was prevented from registering the name as a trademark by a legal challenge from the fast-food giant.
Yuen owns two McChina restaurants near London, operating under the name McChina Wok Away.
On Tuesday, High Court Judge David Neuberger ruled that the name would not deceive or cause confusion among customers. Neuberger said McDonald's held the rights to a number of names beginning with Mc or Mac.
"Some of the names currently used by the opponents (McDonald's) bear titles of an oriental nature, including Chicken McNugget Shanghai, Oriental McRib and McFortune Cookie," he conceded.
However, he said McDonald's was "virtually seeking to monopolize all names and words with prefix Mc or Mac, at least in relation to food or restaurant services."
McDonald's argued that the use of the Mc prefix would lead people to associate the restaurants with their chain. It said it had commissioned a 1996 survey in which 30 percent of respondents believed McChina was part of McDonald's.
A McDonald's restaurant manager in the town of Camberley, southwest of London, told the hearing that he had been called by two people asking if the McChina restaurant nearby was part of the McDonald's chain.
Yuen said he adopted the Mc prefix to signify "son of" and felt the public would recognize this. Neuberger agreed.
McChina's customers "would almost all be looking for oriental food, whereas the great majority of the opponents' customers would either not be looking for oriental food or would be looking for oriental food as one of the possible types of food they were considering purchasing," the judge said.