What does this mean for the twin Wendy’s? Potentially less than you might expect, said Blair Bevan, an intellectual property lawyer based in Sydney and partner at the commercial law firm Holding Redlich.
“It could be a storm in a sundae cup,” Mr. Bevan said.
Both Wendy’s have longstanding registered trademarks in Australia, and both had recently been renewed, he said. They had been accepted under a particular provision of Australian intellectual property law.
It was therefore likely that the Australian trademarks office had highlighted the possibility of confusion in the marketplace, requiring either further evidence or a letter of consent from the other party, Mr. Bevan said.
“I think that there has probably already been a deal done, and that Wendy’s Australia has already acknowledged Wendy’s U.S. trademark rights here in Australia and allowed the coexistence,” he said. That would allow the two trademark applications to be accepted and registered unopposed.
So long as the Australian Wendy’s sticks to ice cream and hot dogs, and the American Wendy’s offers burgers and fries, there would be little issue, Mr. Bevan said. “I suspect they will both stay in their lanes to try and limit that confusion,” he added.
Neither company responded to a request for comment.
The American Wendy’s might still face some pushback from local consumers, especially if Australian franchisees felt they were getting a bad deal, Mr. Terry, of the University of Sydney, said. “Nothing drives the patriotism of the Australians like the big boys from overseas coming in and riding roughshod over everything,” he said.
Similar issues have bedeviled other American fast-food companies looking to the Australian market.
In 1981, Taco Bell (in the United States) clashed with a company by the same name in Sydney’s Bondi Beach area. (The American outfit lost.) Then in 2021, it reached a legal settlement with an Australian Mexican restaurant, Taco Bill. And in Sydney, a company called Down N’ Out Burger was forced to change its name to High N’ Dry in 2020, after years of legal wrangling with the West Coast fast food chain In-N-Out.