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November 6, 2009 3:34 PM

McDonald's Settles Another "David v. Goliath" Suit

Posted by Zach Lowe

Let's start by saying we need to come up with a new catchy phrase for a little guy v. big guy legal case, because "David v. Goliath" is getting old. That said, the first line of the complaint a Minnesota burger joint filed against McDonald's reads, "This is a case of David versus Goliath."

In the complaint, the Lion's Tap of Eden Prarie, Minn., accuses McDonald's of violating trademark laws by using the phrase "Who's Your Patty?" to market the new McDonald's Angus beef burger. Owners of Lion's Tap, represented by Briggs & Morgan in Minneapolis, claim they registered the "Who's Your Patty?" mark in Minnesota four years ago and filed a trademark application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office this year.

McDonald's--repped by IP boutique Banner & Witcoff in Chicago--reached an undisclosed settlement with the Lion's Tap on Thursday, according to court records and the AP. The lead lawyers on both sides did not return calls seeking comment.

But we can't sign off without complimenting Lion's Tap lead lawyer Michael Lafeber on his creative prose. After starting with the David versus Goliath line, Lafeber goes on to pen a loving description of Lion's Tap burgers that we can't help but interpret as an attempt to contrast a family-owned business based on quality with a global chain that pumps out mediocrity.

Here's the best part: "Lion's Tap's fresh ground beef, which is individually pattied daily, and its own 'secret' seasoning are just two of the reasons for the success and reputation of Lion's Tap hamburgers. Lion's Tap's hamburgers are simple, hearty, and juicy. Napkins are plentiful and necessary."

That last comment made us laugh, and we needed that, since the Yankees championship parade is going down our office block today.

Lafeber continues on to call McDonald's use of the "Who's Your Patty?" phrase "a move worthy of the Hamburglar or Captain Crook."

Captain Crook? That just about made our day. 

McDonald's is usually on the other end of trademark infringement cases, fighting companies who attempt to use the "Mc" prefix, such as "McDentist" or "McBagel." The fast good giant recently lost a court battle in Malaysia when that country's highest judicial body ruled that a small restaurant named McCurry could keep its name.

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