Tourist icons face financial ruin

MARKETING/CORPORATE LAW:

The very existence of some of Australia’s most popular tourist destinations is under dire threat – and it has nothing to do with patron numbers decimated by COVID-19 over recent months.

Their future is now entirely at the mercy of the outcome of a bitter and expensive legal stoush between two fast-food giants – McDonald’s and Hungry Jack’s.

McDonald’s has taken umbrage at a very cheeky move by Hungry Jack’s in introducing their Big Jack, clearly a reference to the famous McDonald’s Big Mac.

But is it a rip-off? Lawyers who are experts in intellectual property and trademark law say both sides could mount a strong argument.

“Both sides will have a huge team of legal experts convinced they have the legal upperhand,” one Intellectual Property silk told The Bug.

“So, just like a lot of law, this could come down to whether the judge likes a quarter pounder with cheese or a whopper more!”

And the problem for our tourism icons?

“The shared word here of course is Big,” the IP expert explained, “so if the judge rules, for example, that McDonald’s has world copyright exclusivity on ‘Big” then a number of Aussie attractions are in… aah, eer …. big trouble.”

Tourist destinations that would be forced to change their names at great expense would include, in Queensland, the Big Pineapple near Nambour, the Big Mower at Beerwah and the Big Cow in Gympie, in NSW, the Big Banana near Coffs Harbour, the Big Prawn in Ballina, the Big Crook outside Angus Taylor’s electorate office in Goulburn and the Big Ta-Tas at King’s Cross in Sydney; in Victoria, the Big Ned Kelly in Glenrowan; in South Australia the Big Cocky at Kimba on the Eyre Peninsular; in Western Australia the Big Lollipop at Ravensthorpe, and in the NT, the Big Buffalo at Adelaide River, just to name a few.

The Bug‘s research suggests there are more than 23,500 “Big” tourist attractions around the nation, including two entirely different looking Big Thongs.

“The costs to this iconic places to rename their attractions – all the signage and pamphlets, the souvenirs at the gift shops at the exit, everything – would be enormous,” the IP expert said.

“Imagine having to shell out to rename that wonderful tourist drawcard, The Big Oyster in Taree? If it loses its attractiveness the whole town will suffer because that’s the only reason people go there.

“And who’s going to travel to Glenrowan to take in the He Really Wasn’t All That Big…. sorry, make that… Tall Seeing He Was Irish Ned Kelly?

“Consider also the dilemma that would then face those who administrate The Great Barrier Reef.

“I’ve been told that with mass losses of coral over recent times due to climate change and other factors, plans were well under way, forced by truth in advertising and trade practices laws, to remarket the world attraction more accurately as The Big Barrier Reef.

“A win for McDonald’s would force a complete rethink.”