It's about time we paid a return visit to the longest-running court case in the history of British industrial law, the case of McDonalds vs McDonald's, in which the chain of red-and-yellow hamburger outlets is being sued by all those Scottish people called McDonald who claim that the association with fast food and chicken nuggets cheapens their grand old traditional name. They are demanding that the burger chain change its name.
A major new development in the case happened last week, and it was heralded by the appearance of... but perhaps an extract from the trial will make things clearer.
Counsel: I propose to call a new witness, m'Lud.
Judge: Someone else called McDonald, I suppose? We seem to have had the entire population of the British Isles called McDonald or MacDonald or MacDonnell or M'Donald trooping through here.
Counsel: Well, that is slightly the idea of the case, m'Lud. We are trying to establish the wide-spread suffering caused to the bearers of the name MacDonald by the world-wide spread of McDonald's restaurants, creeping across the globe like a plague...
Judge: Yes, yes, yes. Carry on, then.
Counsel: Call the next witness!
Witness: Here I am.
Counsel: Now, your name is MacDonald, is it not?
Counsel: No? Then what is it?
Witness: Campbell. Angus Campbell.
Counsel: Angus Campbell? But you assured me that your name was Wullie MacDonald!
Witness: Aye. But I was lying. It's Angus Campbell.
Counsel: And why on earth did you lie about your name?
Witness: Because otherwise you would never have called me as a witness.
Counsel: And why did you want to be called as a witness?
Witness: To protest about the ignominy that has been heaped on the name Campbell in the wake of its commandeering by the firm that makes Campbell's tomato soup!
Man in Public Gallery: Watch it, sonny!
Judge: And who may you be?
Man: My Lord, I represent Campbell's campaign lawyers, a crack gang of fast-moving lawmen who move into action at the first sign of slander or libel against the fair name of Campbell's.
Witness: Aye, it's a fair name all right! And I want it back!
Judge: Any more interruptions and I shall clear the court!
Counsel: My Lord, as the witness turns out not to be called McDonald, I intend to ask him to stand down.
Judge: Overruled. As it is such a blessed relief to have a witness not called McDonald, I insist you while away a little time asking him questions.
Counsel: Very well... As you lordship wishes... Now, Mr Campbell, I gather you object to the plethora of soup products under the name of Campbell?
Witness: Not at all. I object much more to the proliferation of my name in multiple form in the works of the mindlessly robotic artist Andy Warhol, whose Campbell's Soup Tin has acquired iconic status, where as it should have been awarded the Order of the Trash Can!
Second Man in Public Gallery: This is blasphemy!
Judge: And who might you be, sir?
Second Man: I represent the Tate Modern Task Force, a squad of highly trained modern art apostles whose job it is to squash and suppress any opposition by the philistines to the onward march of progress in art! The Serota Squad, we are sometimes called!
Judge: And I suppose this interruption by you represents some kind of spontaneous theatrical happening, does it? You are on the cutting edge between law and art?
Second Man: Gosh, I hadn't though of that. Yes, I suppose you're right.
Judge: Well, this is my court, and I belong to what might be termed the Ivan Massow Tendency, and I want you out of here! After a brief struggle, the modernist is removed. Carry on.
Counsel: Now, Mr Campbell, are you aware that a McDonald's restaurant is opened somewhere in the world every two days?
Witness: I wouldna be surprised. I opened a McDonald's myself once.
Counsel: And what happened?
Witness: I didnae like the look of it so I closed it and ate it with my eyes shut.
More of this trial soon, I hopeReuse content