October 29, 2019
Recently, a small, 49-seat restaurant in Edmonton, Alberta called Woodshed Burgers reportedly received a cease-and-desist letter from McDonald’s Canada over the name of its cod fish sandwich. The restaurant owner and chef, Paul Shufelt, named the sandwich the “Effing Filet O’ Fish”. McDonald’s is the owner of the trademark “Filet-O-Fish”.
The cease-and-desist letter reportedly demanded that Woodshed immediately stop using the name for its sandwich as well as any other trademarks that are “confusingly similar” to McDonald’s trademarks and remove these trademarks from promotional materials, menus, websites, social media feed, clothing and other signage.
In the letter, McDonald’s reportedly argued that the coexistence of the similarly named cod sandwiches would likely “cause confusion amongst customers” and “diminish and dilute” the strength of McDonald’s trademark. In a statement to CBC News, the company reportedly said that it takes intellectual property rights “very seriously.”
Shufelt, who reportedly says he does “not have the wallet or the time or the energy to fight a giant like McDonald’s”, has since changed the sandwich's name — but perhaps not in the manner expected. Woodshed has reportedly replaced the sandwich with the “McEffing Fish Fillet”.
The authors are not aware of any further response from McDonald’s, but time will tell if there’s more sandwich name “beef” to come.
Authors: Jaclyn Tilak and Jordyn Benattar