The Corner Hotel in Melbourne is suing McDonald’s, claiming a new hipster cafe that serves as a testing lab for the fast food giant violates its trade mark.
The iconic Richmond pub alleges McDonald’s is violating its trade marks for “The Corner” and “Corner”, which it has registered for restaurant, cafe, bar and hospitality services since 2015 and 2011, respectively.
At the centre of the lawsuit is McDonald’s The Corner Cafe in the Sydney suburb of Camperdown, which serves quinoa, brown rice, pulled pork and other hipster fare and looks nothing like a regular McDonald’s restaurant.
Servers at The Corner Cafe wear chambray shirts and leather strap aprons, not the drab grey shirts worn by McDonald’s army of hamburger-serving workers.
The cafe, the only one of its kind in Australia, is being used to test out new healthier menus for possible rollout across the rest of Australia.
McDonald’s has applied to register “The Corner” trade mark and its yellow circular logo for the cafe. But the move is being contested by The Corner Hotel’s owner Swancom, which claims McDonald’s Australia and its corporate parent MCD Asia Pacific have committed “flagrant” trade mark infringement.
Swancom has hired litigation powerhouse Clayton Utz to represent it in the David-versus-Goliath battle against the fast food chain.
The lawsuit claims McDonald’s has continued to violate the trade marks despite receiving eight separate communications from Swancom’s solicitors between 2015 and 2018 regarding the alleged infringement.
Swancom alleges McDonald’s trade marks for “The Corner” and its logo are deceptively similar and substantially identical to its trade marks, and that its reputation and goodwill in the marks has been diluted as a result of the alleged infringement by McDonald’s. It also claims it has lost sales, as well as business and license payments, and that its reputation has suffered as a result of the alleged infringement.
It is seeking a permanent injunction barring McDonald’s from doing business under the marks, as well as damages plus interest and costs.
McDonald’s did not immediately respond to requests seeking comment on the lawsuit.
A case management hearing has been scheduled for September 7 before Justice Mark Moshinsky.
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