The Italian Almanac


Beware the Mc

A Sardinian businessman has been cowed into self-censorship after fast food giant McDonald's took exception to his use of 'Mc' in the names of two tiny outlets. Ivan Puddu received letters threatening legal action from the chain's lawyers after he called his shops selling traditional fare McPuddu's and McFruttu's.

''It seems absurd to me but I opted to cover the Mc part with tape with 'censored' written on and use the more Italian 'De' prefix instead,'' said Puddu, whose shops are at Santa Maria Navarrese on the East of the island. ''I don't have the money to face a legal dispute with a multinational''.

McDonald's, like many big corporations, jealously guards against enterprises trying to free ride on its fame and has frequently sued those using Mc or Mac in trade names, not always successfully. Puddu thinks the chain has overreacted in his case because the sort of food he sells is very different to the burgers and fries McDonald's is famous for, so there is little danger of customers being confused.

''I was taken aback when I received the letters because I never thought I could be accused of exploiting the American trademark,'' he said. 'I just wonder whether McDonald's lawyers threaten everyone who has the Mc prefix in their company name or in their products''.

The recently renamed DePudda's sells Sardinian goodies that can also be considered fast food, in the same way kebabs and sandwiches can, as they can be served up quickly and eaten on the move. Traditional delicacies like the 'culurgiones' cheese filled pastries are among those on the men. The other shop, DeFruttu's - Fruttu is Puddu's mother's maiden name - sells milkshakes, smoothies and sorbets.