In Cheah v. McDonald’s Corporation, the Federal Court of Canada held that MACDIMSUM is likely to be confusing with the MacDonald’s family of trademarks. Focusing on the evidence presented, the Court distinguished several earlier cases in which McDonald’s failed to preclude other businesses from using the MC or MAC prefix, including McDonald’s Corporation v. Silcorp Ltd (1989) and McDonald’s Corporation v. Coffee Hut Stores Ltd (1996), where McDonald’s failed to prevent the use of MAC for convenience stores and MCBEAN for a coffee business. In Cheah, the Applicant, who was self‑represented, did not meet the onus on him to prove the mark was registrable. It was also important that the application was simply for the word MACDIMSUM and not for that word in any particular type style or in combination with any other word or design. Since a proposed use application was at issue, the Court stated that it must remain open to the fact that the trademark could potentially be used in any type style, with any combination of words or design, and in any trade environment as may present itself from time to time.
The Applicant failed to present any evidence of actual use and during cross‑examination he acknowledged he had not yet finalized plans regarding use. McDonald’s’ evidence focused on its family of marks and included affidavits regarding McDonald’s “four score” trademarks, use and advertising in Canada, as well as an expert survey.
In dismissing the appeal, the Court stated that the evidence presented regarding use or intended use is critical to a decision such as this. While the respondent McDonald’s Corporation presented considerable evidence to oppose the registration of the word MACDIMSUM, the Applicant presented little probative evidence throughout the proceedings. The Court also accepted the survey that McDonald’s presented, which involved showing certain members of the public a card bearing the word MACDIMSUM, and others a card bearing the word MAZDIMSUM. Based on the results, the expert concluded that a statistically significant portion of consumers would identify the McDonald’s as the source of the MACDIMSUM food products.
The Court also found that the Applicant’s evidence of the use of MC and MAC in other jurisdictions was largely hearsay and did not establish dilution in Canada. Finally, the Court found no merit in the Applicant’s assertion that he was being bullied, noting that the McDonald’s counsel was proper and courteous. Instead, a hint of the Applicant’s true intention was to be found in a letter in which he suggested the possibility of “a global MACDIMSUM partnership”.