A budding burger chain in Russia called “Uncle Vanya” is looking to grab business that has been left on the table by McDonald’s — revealing a logo that looks strikingly similar to the “Golden Arches.”
A March 12 trademark filing with the Russian government showed an image that closely resembles the McDonald’s logo turned on its side. The sketchy filing shows a Cyrillic letter “B,” which references the “V” in “Uncle Vanya,” cast in yellow against a red background.
“Trademark squatting has begun in Russia,” tweeted Josh Gerben, a prominent intellectual property attorney who was among those who flagged the filing.
The application appeared online after Russian officials indicated they remove patent protections for companies linked to countries deemed hostile to Russia — a response to crippling international sanctions and a mass exodus of Western companies in response to the Ukraine invasion.
McDonald’s representatives did not immediately return a request for comment.
McDonald’s closed all of its 850 stores in Russia during the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Earlier this month, Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested the Kremlin would move to seize assets from companies exiting the country by “[introducing] external management” and “[transferring] these enterprises to those who want to work,” according to Russian state media.
McDonald’s was singled out as a likely target. Vyacheslav Volodin, a top official in Russia’s State Duma, said last week that Russian restaurants should take control of McDonald’s locations — with a specific reference to Uncle Vanya.
“They announced they are closing. Well, okay, close. But tomorrow in those locations we should have not McDonald’s, but Uncle Vanya’s,” Volodin said, according to the Washington Post. “Jobs must be preserved and prices reduced.”
As The Post reported, an easing of trademark protections could clear the way for local operators to reopen McDonald’s stores without permission or legal repercussions within the country.
Some McDonald’s locations in Russia remained opened despite the corporate directive. GiD LLC, a franchisee with 25 restaurants, told state media that locations in Siberia were still operating as normal. Locations in other cities, including Moscow, also remained active, the Daily Mail reported.
McDonald’s was one of the companies to exit Russia, shuttering all of its approximately 850 store locations in the country in a move that the company expects to cost $50 million per month. The fast-food giant plans to continue paying its 62,000 Russian workers throughout the shutdown.
“As we move forward, McDonald’s will continue to assess the situation and determine if any additional measures are required,” McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski said in a statement on the decision. “At this juncture, it’s impossible to predict when we might be able to reopen our restaurants in Russia.”
Long lines formed at stores and in drive-thrus in Russia after McDonald’s announced the store closures. Many Russians began hoarding and selling McDonald’s products at exorbitant prices via online platforms.
One viral Reddit thread revealed a Russian citizen stocked their fridge full of McDonald’s burgers prior to the closures.