We've all heard the infamous story of the lady who sued McDonald's after getting burned by a cup of hot coffee, or the woman who found the chicken head in her McNuggets.
What does not get as much coverage is now many suits get filed in the other direction, as the fast food corporations prove they can think up far stupider reasons to sue than their customers can.
In 1990, two UK versions of hippies were handing out pamphlets on the streets the way hippies (and various cults) tend to. The pamphlets made wild accusations about how McDonald's sells unhealthy food and creates pollution.
McDonald's was not amused and filed a libel suit, which is good for them because a sequel to the pamphlet detailing how McDonald's burgers are made from goat scrotum and how the Hamburglar made a series of gloryhole videos called "Robble Gobble" was already in the planning stages.
The case went to trial and pretty much became the biggest, most embarrassing thing it possibly could have been for McDonald's. The two hippies, an out-of-work mailman and a gardener, represented themselves and proceeded to fuck McDonald's six ways from Sunday for seven straight years.
They called 180 witnesses to back up the claims they had made in the pamphlet, and cost McDonald's millions in legal bills. In the end, the defendants had managed to prove three-fifths of their claims, but were found guilty of libel on the rest. However, that managed to prove McDonald's guilty on a number of counts and also made them look like epic assholes.
An appeal by the defendants went on to fuck McDonald's further and make them look even more like a faceless corporation of death bent on killing children with Happy Meals, to the point where McDonald's basically folded and said they would not seek to collect on the money owed.
Burger chain Carl's Jr. sued rival Jack in the Box over an ad campaign that implied Carl's Jr. made their burgers out of the tender meat of the anus.
Carl's Jr. boasts that their burgers are made of "Angus" beef and Jack in the Box staked their entire campaign on the fact that "Angus" sort of sounds like "anus." Carl's Jr. sued on the grounds that people may be too retarded to know that Angus beef does not come from a cow's ass and they wanted to protect that loyal base of retarded customers from being led astray.
In July 2007, a judge denied Carl's Jr. an injunction to stop the ads from running. A suit is still pending but obviously it's moot because if Carl's Jr. wins, Jack in the Box can't go back and erase the ads from the customers' memory.
By the way, Carl's Jr. provided survey evidence to show that 36 percent of people thought Angus meat came from cow ass, which begs the bigger question of why they sell Angus burgers at all if they acknowledge a third of people think that.
In 2005, band of questionable talent Slipknot sent a cease and desist order to Burger King, asking them to quit advertising their chicken fries via commercials featuring a band that was actually called Coq Roq. Slipknot felt Coq Roq was violating their rights by punking off their incredibly original image that no band had thought of before, not even back in the '70s when KISS did it.
Rather than ignoring them, Burger King responded by filing suit against Slipknot, requesting that a judge declare that Coq Roq was not a rip off of Slipknot. In an actual, legal filing, Burger King reps, presumably with a straight face, detailed how the band Coq Roq is made up of six people in chicken masks named Fowl Mouth, Kabuki, The Talisman, Free Range, Sub-Sonic and Firebird. Also, so the court wouldn't be totally unaware of the finer legal issues, they included lyrics of a Coq Roq song:
Raw desire is the fire I feed
Chicken Fries are what I need
See you standing like BK treat
Long and lean and just out of reach
It's not known if at this point, having read the term "Coq Roq" about a hundred times, the judge decided to abandon law as a profession.
After some meetings, Burger King quietly agreed to drop the campaign (it wasn't exactly going over well with customers anyway, since they were using cock innuendo to sell chicken fingers). Meanwhile the whole thing couldn't have done wonders for Slipknot's image, since it's kind of hard to look at them the same way once you realize they're a group of wealthy men with a team of lawyers in their employ.
In 2004, Krispy Kreme, riding high on a curious wave of people treating their donuts as if they were made of cocaine and titties, decided to sue donut maker Entenmann's for copyright infringement. It seems Entenmann's had the balls to call their donuts "original glazed" and sell them in white boxes with blue dots on them, which looks exactly like the green and white Krispy Kreme packaging, when viewed from a distance by a color blind and illiterate person who isn't able to read "Entenmann's" on the label.
In early 2005, millions of Krispy Kreme customers looked up and said, "Wait a second! These are just fucking donuts! What were we all worked up about?" The company's stock price collapsed and shareholders filed a lawsuit of their own.
Suddenly the vaguely similar Entenmann's box was the least of their problems and they quietly dropped the suit.