Old McDonald had a relish for litigation

'I would not have thought a burger was waterproof. Taste proof, perhaps. Waterproof, I doubt'
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Today I bring you another extract from the extraordinary court case in which McDonald's, the fast-food firm, is being sued by lots of people called McDonald in an effort to make it change its name. One of these McDonalds is currently being cross-questioned...

Today I bring you another extract from the extraordinary court case in which McDonald's, the fast-food firm, is being sued by lots of people called McDonald in an effort to make it change its name. One of these McDonalds is currently being cross-questioned...

Counsel: Is your name McDonald?

Witness: Aye, it is.

Counsel: Do I take it from your use of the word "aye" rather than "yes" that

you are from Scotland?

Witness: Aye, unlike the tawdry chain of red and yellow restaurants that has polluted the world with its...

Counsel: Yes, well, perhaps we can get to that in a moment. Now, is it your contention that the widespread use of the name McDonald to represent fast food has cheapened one of the grand old names of Scotland?

Witness: To say the very least.

Counsel: And yet other Scottish names have been similarly used. The name Macintosh has for years been taken as a synonym for "raincoat". Yet we do not hear of people called Macintosh up in arms about this use of their surname.

Witness: That is partly because raincoats do not leave lots of litter and a greasy smell behind them. It is also because the raincoat has a genuine connection with a man called Macintosh who did clever things with rain-proofing, so that a thing called a "macintosh" has a ring of quality about it.

Counsel: Could the same not be said for McDonald's hamburgers?

Witness: I would not have thought that a McDonald's hamburger was waterproof. Tasteproof, perhaps. Waterproof, I doubt.

Counsel: That was not what I meant at all. I meant that just as a raincoat can be named after Mr Macintosh, or tarmacadam after Mr Macadam, so a Big Mac can be named after Mr McDonald.

> Witness: Ah, but there was no Mr McDonald! The firm was founded, I believe, by an American called Ray Kroc. Why is the chain not called Kroc's? I would have no objection to things called Big Krocs, as long as I didn't have to eat them. But why McDonald's? Why should he pollute my name with his pabulum?

Man in Public Gallery: I object! I represent McDonald's lawyers, who are poised everywhere to swoop on possible libel, and I take fierce exception to

McDonald's hamburgers being called "pabulum". If it is not withdrawn, a libel suit will descend!

Judge: Before I have you thrown out, sir, may I just explain one thing to you? The word "pabulum" is an old word meaning "food". That is all it means.

Man: Well...

Judge: Now throw him out! ( This is done.) Now, Mr Radish, pray continue.

Counsel: Well, Mr McDonald, although you may personally dislike the fast food produced by McDonald's chain, can you honestly say that its chosen name has affected your life in any real way?

Witness: Yes. I am often called Ronald by strangers.

Counsel: Anything else?

Witness: Yes. Whenever I pass a McDonald's, I have to fight the urge to imitate the great Monsieur Bové and destroy the premises with a bulldozer.

Counsel: Ah, but could you lay your hands on a bulldozer?

Witness: I could, as a matter of fact.

Counsel: What make of bulldozer?

Witness: It is a JCB.

Counsel: Do you think people with the initials JCB suffer from the same paranoia as you? Do you think that such people, whenever they see a JCB bulldozer, are seized with rage at having their initials appropriated? Do you think it fair that you, Mr McDonald, should have the only name that allows its bearers to get angry... ?

Judge: Just a moment, Mr Radish. I have a strange presentiment creeping on. Do you intend to call any witnesses with the initials JCB?

Counsel: Just a couple of dozen, m'lud.

Judge: Ye gods.

Counsel: Also some people called Onions, several called Liver, a few called Relish and one man with the unusual surname of Burger-King, all of whom will testify that their lives have been unaffected by their names.

Judge: Anyone called Ketchup?

Counsel: I hadn't thought of that. Thank you for the suggestion.

Judge: Not at all. I can't wait. The court is adjourned.

The case continues, though not in this column.

Comments