5 Dumbest Things on Wall Street: Sept. 11


NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Mickey D's Legal Defeat

Ronald McDonald just got McWhacked in Malaysia.

McDonald's (Stock Quote: MCD) came out on the losing end of an eight-year-old trademark battle to prevent local restaurant McCurry from using the 'Mc' prefix in a judgment by Malaysia's highest court Tuesday. The federal court ruled that McDonald's, which has 137 outlets in the southeast Asian country, will not be able to appeal the verdict, ending all legal avenues for the fast-food giant to protect its name from what it calls a trademark infringement.

In case you could not separate the two franchises (we know it's tough), McCurry serves Indian food, not billions and billions of burgers like its U.S. counterpart. Its owner maintains that the "Mc" in its title is an abbreviation for Malaysian Chicken Curry.

Of course, that's just a bunch of McGarbage. McCurry, a popular eatery located on the edge of Kuala Lumpur's downtown, is clearly freeloading off the fast-food juggernaut to raise its profile. And McDonald's is obviously intent on proving it will spend the time and money to crush its tiniest competitor.

And now it looks like it will be spending a little more. As a result of the court decision, Mickey D's is being forced to pay 10,000 ringgit ($2,900) to McCurry.

"On the basis of unanimous decision, our view is that" McDonald's plea to carry the case forward has no merit, said chief judge Arifin Zakaria. "It is unfortunate that we have to dismiss the application with costs," he said.

McDonald's lawyers refused to comment, except to say that the company will abide by the judgment. McCurry lawyer Sri Devi Nair said the precedent-setting ruling means McDonald's does not have a monopoly on the prefix "Mc," and that other restaurants could also use it as long as they distinguish their food from McDonald's.

As for A.M.S.P. Suppiah, the owner of McCurry, he said he hopes to expand after being "stalled for eight years."

What a McShame. Maybe if he showed a bit more originality, he could have done something earlier.


Dumb-o-meter score: 95 -- Is that a Grimace we see on McDonald's legal team? Looks like they've been robbed by the Hamburglar.


UBS Blame Game


Is it just us or has there has been way too much BS at UBS (Stock Quote: UBS) lately?

The Swiss banking giant's chairman Kaspar Villiger laid the majority of the blame for the financial crisis on American "politicians" rather than the banks while speaking this week at a conference on restoring trust in financial markets. Villiger, a former Swiss finance minister, was brought in to run UBS earlier this year after the Swiss government bailed out the bank to the tune of 6 billion Swiss francs ($5.2 billion). UBS also split off as much as $60 billion of risky assets it owned into a fund backed by the country's central bank.

"Many banks have made inexcusable mistakes, however these mistakes are not the cause of the crisis. The markets have not failed, they have reacted logically to the misguided incentives set by politicians, in particular (in) the U.S.," he said.

So much for Swiss neutrality. Look Kaspar, we know our politicians are fools, but they are our fools, so back off with that crap and own up to your bank's many, many screw-ups.

Speaking of crap, Kaspar must have been reading his own employees' emails of late. On Tuesday, a Connecticut judge ordered UBS to set aside $35.5 million to cover a potential judgment against it in a case involving complex debt securities that the firm's traders called "crap" and "vomit." Earlier this year, the Swiss bank agreed to pay $780 million and hand over the names of some U.S. customers in an agreement to resolve criminal charges that it defrauded U.S. tax authorities.

Pursuit Partners, a Stamford, Conn.-based hedge fund, is claiming in court that UBS sold it investment-grade collateralized debt securities in 2007 with the knowledge they were about to be downgraded. The securities defaulted just months after they were sold as the mortgage market crumbled.

Connecticut Court Judge John F. Blawie's ruling cited an email from a UBS banker saying he had "sold more crap to Pursuit."

UBS called the decision "preliminary" and said the firm is confident it would "prevail on the merits of the case."

What a load of ... well, you know.


Dumb-o-meter score: 90 -- Kaspar is no friendly ghost. He's a bumbling bureaucrat-turned-boneheaded banker.


Sprint's Fast Move


Sprint (Stock Quote: S) may have blown its huge Palm Pre promotion, but it sure lived up to its name.

Faster than the blink of an eye, Sprint pulled its $100 rebate for users moving their phone numbers from another service provider over to a Palm Pre smartphone Tuesday, just hours after launching the offer. The deal, which aimed to boost Sprint's Pre sales, required that new customers sign on for two-year contracts, and the payback would show up as credits in the first three monthly bills.

The service was originally slated to run until Oct. 10, but Sprint confirmed in an email to TheStreet.com that it has now been pulled. The service provider had apparently put the promotion into its system "in error" according to a statement mailed to the AllThingsDigital Web site, but will honor its commitment to customers speedy enough to sign up for the offer for the short time it was available.

Faced with stiff competition from Apple's iPhone, Palm realizes it better get moving, and its association with the No. 3 telco player has hardly kicked sales into overdrive. Palm has already cut the price of its franchise smartphone, and next year the company is expected to make the Pre available to other carriers, including Verizon and possibly AT&T.

Sprint better not screw up again because it certainly looks like Palm has no qualms about leaving it in the dust.


Dumb-o-meter score: 85 -- Sprint is running in slow motion.


McGraw's Flaws


McGraw-Hill (Stock Quote: MHP) President Harold "Terry" McGraw better get his "house" in order. Otherwise, big, bad short-seller David Einhorn will huff and puff and blow it down.

McGraw rebutted criticisms leveled against the bond-rating side of his business during a CNBC interview Tuesday maintaining that "fraud does not live in our house." His latest defense comes in the wake of a federal judge's ruling last week that said the ratings of securities distributed to a limited number of investors do not carry the same constitutional protections as ratings distributed more widely.

Shares of McGraw-Hill and Moody's sold off sharply as a result of the judge's decision, as shareholders fretted that the firms would be open to fraud claims for their horrific ratings decisions during the housing boom.

McGraw acknowledged his company "had the housing recession wrong," but he found the bright side for CNBC-viewers saying that the judge actually rejected 10 of the 11 claims in the suit.

Close, Terry, but no cigar. And you needed to go a perfect 11 for 11, especially with the wolflike Greenlight Capital's Einhorn knocking at your door.

Einhorn, famous for predicting Lehman's demise, called the court ruling a "game-changer" for the industry on CNBC later that day. The hedge fund manager, who is short both McGraw-Hill and Moody's, questions whether the bond raters have the capital to defend against future lawsuits.

"Because they violated the trust by loosening standards and concentrated on their fees and their shares, there were ... securities that were created and sold that shouldn't have been and the ratings agencies knew that at the time," charged Einhorn.

Said McGraw, who was not responding to Einhorn but a question from his host, "The fact that a lot of other people had it wrong doesn't help, but we don't like that. That's where our problems began."

No, Terry, your problems began when your firm sold its credibility to the Wall Street CDO-making machine and started giving triple-A ratings to toxic mortgage securities. Or, as one of your staffers put it in a now-infamous instant message: "We rate every deal. It could be structured by cows and we would rate it."

You can plead your innocence -- or your ignorance -- until the cows come home, but we know what really happened. Einhorn quite clearly does, too.


Dumb-o-meter score: 80 -- The folks at Moody's must be in a foul mood. First Berkshire Hathaway starts dumping the stock, and now Einhorn is on the attack.


Love Hates Activision


Apparently Kurt Cobain's widow Courtney Love doesn't want her late husband playing cover tunes.

Courtney showed anything but love for Activision (Stock Quote: ATVI) this week, threatening to sue the video game publisher about Cobain's appearance and functionality in its new Guitar Hero 5. Claiming to represent the former Nirvana frontman's estate, Love told her Twitter fans that "this Guitar Hero (expletive) is breach of contract on a bully's part and there will be a proper addressing of this and retraction."

OK, so tell us how you really feel, Courtney.

Rumor has it that it took three years of negotiations for Love to originally sign the agreement allowing Cobain's likeness to be a playable character in the game, or avatar, in the first place. Guitar Hero 5 arrived in stores last week as a pre-emptive strike against Electronic Arts' (Stock Quote: ERTS) new blockbuster The Beatles: Rock Band game.

Love's peeve -- at least his particular peeve -- seems to center around the fact that Cobain's avatar could be used to perform any song, not just Nirvana's, once unlocked. Moreover, he can also play multiple instruments in the game, so, for example, a quartet of Cobains can rock out to John Mellencamp's Hurt So Good.

Tweeted the irrepressible Love (spelling mistakes included, but sans expletives): "never did i intend on allowing allowing GUITARHERO for me or for Kurt i am NOT yoko (expletive) Ono no ofense to her, but i am a different person entirely and this is insane."

Yes it is, Courtney. In more ways than one.


Dumb-o-meter score: 65 -- Smells like teen stupidity to us.



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