Kentucky Fried Chicken versus Carnoustie in fast-food fight
The humble Titanic Pizza Company – housed in a shop measuring a mere 15ft by 20ft – and the Kentucky Fried Chicken empire are locked in a David and Goliath battle over two simple words: "family" and "feast".
The use of those two words on the Carnoustie takeaway's new internet menu has incurred the wrath of the fast-food giant, which claims to have copyright over the phrase family feast.
Marie Fagan, one of the two women who own the shop in the Angus town, said yesterday: "KFC are threatening us with legal action.
"They want us to take family feast off our internet menu and also destroy all the menus we have in the shop. It's absolutely unbelievable."
Ms Fagan and her business partner, Gloria Esposito, have been in the pizza business since the early 1990s and opened their takeaway in Carnoustie High Street nine years ago.
They say they have been offering a family feast deal – two regular 10in pizzas, eight slices of garlic bread, a portion of chips or onion rings and a big bottle of Coke – since 1992, a year before KFC took out copyright on the phrase.
Ms Fagan said: "It's one of the most popular choices on our menu."
She went on: "We didn't think anything about it until three weeks ago, when we got a letter from KFC's lawyer threatening us with legal action because we used the words family feast on our internet menu, which we have only had up and running since November. I was dumbfounded. I thought it was a wind-up at first."
Ms Fagan decided to go on the offensive and sent a letter back to the fast-food giant. It stated: "We are frankly flattered to have come to the attention of a multinational global fast-food corporation, since we are small 15ft by 20ft shop in Carnoustie.
"While we may be small, we are perfectly formed and have worked very hard to build up our business. We refuse to be bullied by a global conglomerate.
"We coined the term family feast in 1992 and use it in its literal sense: feast – ie, a large amount of food for the family – ie, a combination of adults and children in a household. We do not believe the word family or feast can be copyrighted and we are intrigued to see how you enforce your demands."
Ms Fagan said: "We also have a Big Brother feast on the menu – it's an even bigger version of the family feast, with 12in pizzas. Does that mean Channel 4 are going to sue us now as well?"
A KFC spokesman said: "Like any business, we have to protect our trademarks. In this case, we have simply written a letter requesting that Titanic changes the name of one of its menu items as we own the trademark to use it. We do not want or envisage legal action, and we hope to reach an amicable solution."
John MacKenzie, an expert on copyright law with Pinsent Masons in Edinburgh, said:
"I think that, with a bit of sensible discussion, KFC will quietly back down. They have made their point."
DAVID v GOLIATH: HOW THE TWO SIDES MEASURE UP
TITANIC PIZZA COMPANY, Carnoustie: Established in Dundee by Marie Fagan and business partner Gloria Esposito in 1992.
Employees – two owners plus three part-time staff in one outlet. Its "family feast" deal comprises two regular 10in pizzas, eight slices of garlic bread, a portion of chips or onion rings and a big bottle of Coke. Cost 15.
KENTUCKY FRIED CHICKEN: Founded in the mid-1930s by Colonel Harland Saunders in Corbin, Kentucky, United States.
Employees – some 8,000 people in more than 700 outlets in UK and Ireland.
Its "family feast" contains eight or 12 pieces of fried chicken, four portions of chips, coleslaw, beans and a bottle of your favourite drink. Prices 11.49 and 14.49.