McDonald’s Says Dunkin’ Donuts Menu Is Too Similar, Sues To Block Nearby Store

While fast food burger joints have battled over turf and market share for decades, it’s always seemed like Dunkin’ Donuts and McDonald’s were able to live in relative peace since their core products were very different. But a new lawsuit filed by McDonald’s now claims that Dunkin’ and the Golden Arches are so similar that a Maryland mall operator should be stopped from leasing space to the donut chain.

Baltimore Business Journal reports that McDonald’s corporate office filed the complaint [PDF] earlier this month in a federal court in Maryland.

The suit alleges breach of contract by the operators of a shopping center in Derwood, MD, who recently leased a space to a combination Dunkin’ Donuts/Baskin Robbins but whose lease with the Golden Arches includes a restriction against the mall from leasing space to “restaurants with menu items substantially similar to those of McDonald’s, within 2000 feet of the McDonald’s restaurant at the Shopping Center.”

So do these two fast food giants really offer the same stuff?

Below is the plaintiff’s side-by-side comparison on what McDonald’s views as similar menu items at the two eateries:
menuitemscomparison

As you can see, the majority of these items are from the breakfast menu. The suit also takes issue with the fact that Baskin Robbins, like McDonald’s, serves “ice cream products, including but not limited to, ice cream cones, ice cream sundaes, blended ice cream products, milk shakes, smoothies, and blended coffee drinks.”

Claiming that it will experience losses greater than $75,000 if the Dunkin’ Donuts is allowed to operate within the same shopping center, McDonald’s is asking the court to issue an injunction blocking the mall from leasing the space to the other fast food company.

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  1. FusioptimaSX says:

    This is BS and everyone knows it. Lets compared the DD menu to the ENTIRE McDonald’s menu. If McDonald’s is as good as they say they are, then they should have no problem naturally crushing the competition! If people knew of this, perhaps they’d purposely not go to McD for breakfast OR Lunch/Dinner over this bullying.

  2. DaddyBee says:

    So two eateries have virtually identical breakfast menus? Gosh!

    News flash: breakfast is pretty the same anywhere at a fast food place in America these days.

    End of lawsuit.

    • CzarChasm says:

      Your right, by gosh! There is no way two companies should be allowed to enter into a contractual agreement with each other, that’s preposterous.

      I don’t think the country should be standing for all this agreeing to rules beforehand crap. I’m going to get my torches and pitchforks!

  3. schwartzster says:

    Seems legit to me, this is exactly the situation McD was trying to prevent in their contract with the shopping center and there’s nothing anti-competitive or unjust about it. This sort of clause is not uncommon and this sort of lawsuit happens when parties disagree about just how similar the relevant products and/or services are. If McD and the shopping center can’t work it out themselves, a judge will end up determining if the menus are substantially similar.

  4. furiousd says:

    Before this, I didn’t know Dunkin’ Donuts had anything other than coffee and donuts

  5. MathManv2point0 says:

    Questions to ask:

    At the time of the signing of the lease between the mall and McDs was there a disclosure schedule which included McD’s menu? Has McDs menu changed since the signing of the lease?

    If not, it’s going to come down to what schwartzster said in that it depends on what a judge feels a reasonable person would assume is “substantially similar.”

    If the mall loses they could lose on two fronts: penalties for breaking lease covenants with McDs; and if they choose to break their lease with DD, any penalties that may be associated with that.

  6. SingleMaltGeek says:

    Holy crap, I pass by there all the time! I’ve never been in the McDonald’s or noticed the DD there, though. I haven’t stopped there in years, probably not since The BBQ Man retired and closed his place.

    Anyway, I agree that if McD’s contract specified certain noncompete requirements, then the management should be held to that agreement. I think anchor stores (usually the department stores) at malls get a lot of say in who the mall can lease to, among other things.

  7. C0Y0TY says:

    I’d go to the McDonald’s and keep asking for things Dunkin’ has that they don’t. When they get upset, I’ll say, “I thought your menus were supposed to be the same.”