McDonald’s lawyers make a meal of Italian restaurant’s name
Global fast food chain orders tiny Sardinian pasta snack bar to remove ‘Mc’ from its name
A Sardinian snack bar owner who incurred the legal wrath of McDonald’s for daring to use the prefix ‘Mc’ on his shop front has become an unlikely hero for Italian politicians and food campaigners fed up with the global clout of the American hamburger chain.
Ivan Puddu, 32, decided to give his restaurant in Santa Maria Navarrese a fast-food feel by naming it McPuddu’s, only to receive two legal warnings. Lawyers for McDonald’s said that customers might confuse his tiny outlet with the US giant.
Puddu pointed out that his speciality – a Sardinian form of stuffed pasta filled with local sheep’s cheese, potato and mint – was unlikely to be confused with a Big Mac.
“Over here, the parcels are made by hand on Sundays in Sardinian homes,” he told La Repubblica. “They are good, old-fashioned and a family ritual.”
With no funds to fight the order, Puddu has nailed a plank over the “Mc”, adding “censored” above the shop door.
Sardinia’s regional agricultural assessor, Andrea Prato, has guaranteed Puddu the regional government’s financial backing in the “David and Goliath” fight against “one of the greatest corruptors of the palate in the world”. Puddu’s pasta parcels, known as culurgiones, he said, “have been around a lot longer than the cheeseburger”.
“They only take two minutes to cook and make great street food,” he added.
With foreign copies of Italian food costing Italy €70bn (£58bn) a year, he said, “the challenging by McDonald’s of a vendor of typical Sardinian food for using the ‘Mc’ prefix is a mockery”.
McDonald’s has previously sent lawyers around the world to clamp down, with varying degrees of success, on restaurant owners using ‘Mc’ in their names.
On this occasion, warned Carlo Petrini, president of the Italian Slow Food group, it was heading for defeat. “This is stupid arrogance,” he said, “I am sure that in court, McDonald’s would lose this.”