Should KFC sue other anyFCs?

One could easily notice the sprawling Fried Chicken restaurants, with (something +) FC suffix (sounding close to KFC) both before and after KFC started operation in Bangladesh. Should KFC sue them for close-sounding names, or for cloning their product lines? Two answers are there. So choose one of them.

From legal point of view, of course, KFC can sue other close sounding brand names with good probability to win the case, resulting in closure of / injunction on clone brands, or barring those brands from using such names. There is one positive point: KFC has greater chance to win due to the strength of their legal position. There are two downsides too: people buying cheaper clones would develop a negative image about KFC, as if KFC is flexing its legal muscle to dominate in the market (even though KFC is right from legal point). Second, being barred from using close-sounding names, those clone brands will go for distinct brand names that would be more perilous for KFC in the long run.

This is so because we are almost indifferent among other anyFCs assuming that all of them try to copy KFC, so anyFC would be bought when we are not consuming KFC. Thus, by perceptually grouping all anyFCs in one cluster, KFC is actually fighting one generic group of competitors who have weak identity. This weak identity will go away once legal injunction is imposed and all clone brands start using distinct names (remember: unique identity plus differentiation equals branding!).

So what should KFC do in this regard? Should they just leave them alone and make them perceptually a second grader to KFC since clone brands are perceptually positioned to be a follower, and not a leader? Have you ever imagined how these close-sounding names have actually promoted KFC itself, putting this in the minds of buyers that they are following the “leader” KFC?

Alright, as many times as you come across anyFC, think about what brand name comes FIRST in your mind. Now you get the answer.

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About 1mmarketing

Working as Associate Professor, School of Business, United International University, Bangladesh; a North-American graduate, with doctoral studies from UUM, Malaysia; cherishing a wide-view of the world, with multiple interests in culture, people, traveling, and specifically marketing science. I have a colorful and diversified background with a blend of corporate experience, research, consulting, training, public speaking and teaching. I love to write about marketing issues that affect our lives, and talk about its direction that would promote the greatest human welfare.
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8 Responses to Should KFC sue other anyFCs?

  1. Tanzila says:

    No, KFC should not sue any other FCs since they are helping KFC to be positioned better in people’s minds as the leader. In fact the other FCs have made their way by their own (intentionally or unintentionally) to be the follower of KFC. If they would have started with a unique name with better differentiation propositions, it would be easier for them to be better positioned! As once they have chosen the identity of ‘follower’, so it is likely that people will always call them ‘copy of KFC’.

  2. Ashraful Hoque says:

    I think it is illegal for KFC to sue for others FCs, because others FCs did not copy their Brand Name, logo, Manufacturing formula etc. And I also think all other FCs are the registered Brand in the Bangladesh. How KFC can sue for other FCs?. I don’t Know how it can be legal.;

    • 1mmarketing says:

      Bangladesh is a member of WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) and there are certain provisions in the global framework of intellectual property rights that we are obliged to follow. Close sounding names would be valid ONLY when it can be proved that it was done out of “Good faith” and without any ulterior motive to copy anybody else. Those who started BEFORE KFC came to Bangladesh may get exemption with their names, for rest others who came later, It would be difficult to prove. Second, registration means government approval, and if this approval contradicts global framework, government / court of law can cancel the registration later. For example, it is against law to use generic names like “Fresh” or “pure”. For unknown reasons, these names are “registered” in Bangladesh. Does it mean that these names are valid? Anybody can file an objection in the court of law to challenge these names under WIPO framework, and even after government approval (for reasons unknown), court can cancel registration. So there are certain legal issues that need to be taken care of when it comes to Branding. And in this case, particularly those who started close sounding FCs after KFC started operation in Bangladesh, would be in great trouble if KFC sues them, it is perfectly legal to sue other FCs. Whether KFC would do that or not, it is their decision. As I explained in the write-up, it would be advantageous for KFC if they don’t sue the other close sounding brands.

  3. rahat24*7 says:

    So, with this potentially complex legal situation…..KFC should not go for such hassel of suing others.But in long term the need to legally challenge those practise, may be necessity….

  4. There are several legal and bureaucratic complexities (particularly in Bangladesh) that KFC might face in case of suing about other FCs. Regarding that, KFC might have to pay handsome amount of money for dealing the case. This argument goes if the KFC intends to take an action.

    On the other hand, if KFC does not sue, it is losing its market share to a mentionable extent as the other FCs are continuing their operation in the market; even though, it sounds like KFC is the market leader in front of other FCs.

    Sir, what do you think in these contexts ?????

    • 1mmarketing says:

      The point is hypothetical, “if” they sue, surely they have to pay for lawyers. But the kind of business returns would be much more than legal expenses strictly in monetary terms. However. the loss of market share is a matter of research, because core KFC consumers would still consider KFC as the genuine brand whereas other brands as copycat. It is like there will always be a demand for generics, but brands live much longer are earn more than generics in the long run.

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