McDonald's isn't happy about rival McSmile Happyfood

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VILNIUS, Lithuania -- McDonald's Baltic Ltd has filed a lawsuit claiming trademark violation against the minnow- sized Lithuanian fast food company, McSmile Happyfood. McDonald's is suing over McSmile Happyfood's use of the `Mc' prefix. "We have invested a lot of money worldwide to get our trademark known, and we are always ready to protect that trademark," says Kevin Murphy, McDonald's general manager, Baltic Area.

McSmile Happyfood is preparing to defend its cause in court, says McSmile Happyfood's director Frans van Doorn. "The letters `Mc' actually mean very little. If McDonald's really wanted to make a statement, they would use the Mac prefix, which means `the son of' in Gaelic," says van Doorn.

The Lithuanian company is owned by the Dutch group Olandiskas Kampelis. "We use the Mc to signify the Scots' talent for knowing a good deal, and good value. Nothing more. McDonald's is merely engaged in using its size to muscle local competitors out of the market," says van Doorn.

McDonald's registered its name in Lithuania in 1992, even though it only entered the Lithuanian market in 1995. Van Doorn concedes that the McSmile trademark was only registered when the company opened its first and only fast food restaurant in 1995. "We are still optimistic we will win. And if we do we will not insist on McDonald's changing its name. That's the good sports we are," he says.

McDonald's takes trademark issues seriously. Last year the U.S. marketer filed a lawsuit against MacDonalds Grill in Norway, a one-man mobile fish and chips company operating in the Bergen area.

Copyright September 1996, Crain Communications Inc.

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