Time for the little guy to eat McDonald’s

by Cinda Baxter on August 31, 2009

in Independent Retailers, Marketing, Real World

lions_tap_burgerThose of us who live here in the Twin Cities are familiar with The Lion’s Tap, a family owned, decades old restaurant built on good old fashioned customer service. The history of the place is amazing…and the burgers are pretty darn good.

A few years ago, they came up with the catchy phrase “Who’s your patty?” As savvy marketers, they registered the slogan with the state of Minnesota, filed for federal trademark protection, then spent the past four years plastering the question everywhere. Their website. Servers’ t-shirts. In the restaurants. On their business cards. In their ads. And on about a zillion billboards all over the upper Midwest. It’s not unusual to run into a “Who’s your patty?” t-shirt in Fargo, North Dakota or Madison, Wisconsin.

So imagine how stunned they were to find the phrase on a McDonald’s billboard touting the Angus Burger in July, and in television and radio ads ever since.

Being the “Minnesota nice” folks that they are, they’ve spent the past couple of months trying to get the burger behemoth to step back and let go of a phrase someone else owns.

Sadly, “nice” hasn’t worked.

So, Friday afternoon, the gloves came off and a federal suit was filed against McDonald’s for trademark infringement. According to Betsy Schneck, Lion’s Tap manager, “It’s a bit daunting.”

Mickey D’s is abstaining from comment, pending receipt of court documents.

Lion’s Tap customers aren’t abstaining. They’re ticked off, and they’re talking about it. A lot.

This is a classic case of David and Goliath, with all the earmarks of national media exposure. Let me be the first to cheer on the Notermann family as they take on a fight all independent business owners can relate to.

Hang in there, folks. We’re behind you.

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