#3. McDonald's and the Case of the Mean Italian Critic
In 2002, Italian food critic Edoardo Raspelli went on a foul-mouthed tirade against McDonald's, going as far as to say that the ambiance at McDonald's was "mechanical" and that the bread was "poor." Vulgarities such as that could only come from a man who sits at the right hand of Satan, his ink well fed by the blood of innocents and the semen of Hitler.
McDonald's, probably after some intensive rounds of therapy and some veterinary-grade tranquilizers to calm themselves, did the only responsible thing they could in the face of this irresponsible attack: they filed a $25 million lawsuit for defamation.
Above: Artistic rendering of an Italian critic.
The judge in the case suggested the two parties work it out on their own, apparently out of a baffling desire to not preside over a case where he and the jury are forced to try multiple delicious McDonald's sandwiches to prove they didn't taste "like cardboard" (as Raspelli also said).
Little progress has been reported in the suit since, but Raspelli wound up with a massive amount of free publicity since the suit became huge news in the Italian press. Of course during all of the coverage, his harsh criticisms were repeated over and over again for millions of readers and listeners.
Somewhere there are probably some McDonalds executives wishing they had just had the man quietly killed.
#2. Kentucky Fried Horror Show
KFC only has so many words associated with their brand. Kentucky. Fried. Chicken. It's not entirely practical to sue a state, a method of cooking and a bird every time they pop up in the media, but if two of those things appear together, possibly with a bucket near by, you better believe KFC is taking someone to court.
The makers of the Kentucky Fried Horror Show found that out when KFC sent them a letter calling their movie "alarming, ghastly, disturbing, revolting and vile" which is impressive since it hadn't been filmed yet and KFC had no way to get a script.
However, they did see the promotional art, featuring a head in a red and white striped bucket. The Colonel wasn't going to stand for that kind of chicanery. He stands for the mass slaughter of chickens, not people.
Indie filmmakers are known to put movies together on a budget of change found under couch cushions, filmed after they get back from their own jobs at KFC. What they are not known for is fighting major corporations in court.
Thus, the Kentucky Fried Horror Show became the Kentucky Horror Show and the red and white stripes were removed from the promotional artwork, thus making this movie about people in the south dismembered and possibly eaten by the Devil safe for families once again.
#1. The Right to Bear Boobs
Hooters, in a move that had to make more than one legal expert crack some hilarious jokes about "handling evidence" filed suit in 2003 against Kerfs WingHouse Bar & Grill. Hooters sued for $4 million in lost profit because the Winghouse stole some valued trade secrets, such as having waitresses in shorts and tight t-shirts, something Hooters went back in time to invent in the Middle Ages or whenever it was that a bar owner first noticed dudes will pay for more food, beer or bags or horse shit if a woman in a tight shirt is selling it.
The Winghouse, which has 10 locations, was apparently confusing poor, boob-hungry patrons who were just wandering the streets aimlessly in the hopes of finding chicken wings and a glimpse of cotton-clad nipple under an A/C duct. Hooters just couldn't stand for it. Winghouse filed a counterclaim accusing Hooters of trying to use the legal system to crush the competition.
Above: The right to Bear-Boobs.
The judge in the case gave the jury a directed order to basically find in favor of the Winghouse, which they did. The argument from the Winghouse was that they can't be stealing a trademark from Hooters because the clothes are functional and functional clothes can't be protected that way. In case you're wondering, the function has something to do with boners.
Hooters tried to appeal the decision and lost once again, proving the legal system will not stand for anyone trying to hold an illegal monopoly on reducing their wait staff to boobies that can serve drinks.
Honorable Mention: McJob
In 2001, Merriam-Webster added "McJob" to their dictionary, defining it as "a low-paying job that requires little skill and provides little opportunity for advancement." The CEO of McDonald's rattled off a bitchy letter, oblivious to the fact people had been using McJob to mean exactly what the dictionary said it meant for well over a decade.
When simply whining like children didn't work, it was later stated in a veiled, sad threat that McJOBS is trademarked and is the name of the program McDonald's uses to train mentally and physically disabled employees. So they were apparently preparing a claim that the dictionary violated the trademark by including the term, demonstrating McDonalds' complete lack of understanding of what a dictionary is.
For once, the McDonald's legal team showed some restraint and the lawsuit at the heart of their veiled threats never came to pass. Instead, McDonald's has gone on a publicity campaign to try to convince the whole world to stop acting like jobs at McDonald's aren't awesome.
They've also started a petition again the Oxford-English Dictionary, hoping to convince it to remove McJob and its similar definition ("an unstimulating low-paid job with few prospects").
McDonald's claims that definition is false and has evidence that 90 percent of its employees believe they receive valuable training that will be of benefit for the future, not mentioning how many of them believe that because they have resigned themselves to working at McDonald's for the rest of their lives.
Above: Valuable Training.
For more bizarre lawsuits, read about The 9 Insane Cases That Prove the Legal System is Screwed or find out why all the cool kids want the Dark Knight action figures.