KFC seeking legal action over knock-off chicken outlet in Iran

The U.S. fried chicken chain told Al Arabiya News that it was 'shocked' by the opening of 'Halal KFC' in the Iranian capital

Paul Crompton
Paul Crompton - Al Arabiya News
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The parent company of U.S. fast food giant KFC is seeking legal action over the opening of what it called an “illegitimate” outlet in Iran, soon after news that a knock-off eatery in the Islamic Republic had been closed by local authorities.

“We are shocked with the news that an illegitimate KFC outlet has opened in Tehran, Iran,” a Yum! Brands spokeswoman told Al Arabiya News in an emailed statement on Tuesday.

Although Iran has long been cut off from most Western firms due to bans and punishing trade sanctions, some had hoped for a faster warming of business ties after Tehran signed a nuclear deal accord with world powers in July.

“No franchise rights have been granted to any party in Iran. We are in contact with local authorities and external advisers and will be filing a legal action against any company or individuals claiming to have rights to open KFC,” the statement added.

Hours earlier, Iranian police shuttered the “Halal KFC” restaurant that had been operating on a false license, according to Iranian media.

However, the restaurant’s manager said that authorities had made a “misunderstanding” and that “Halal KFC” was not affiliated to the U.S. chain.

“We are part of a brand known as Halal KFC, which comes from Turkey. It belongs to Muslims and its target market is Muslim nations,” Abbas Pazuki told the Tasnim News Agency.

Ali Fazeli, head of the Iranian chamber of commerce, was quoted by the ILNA press agency as saying that “no American fast food chain has a restaurant in Iran.”

“Food products from Iranian KFC have nothing to do with KFC” in the United States, he added.

According to the BBC, state media outlets reported the opening of the restaurant as a first sign of “creeping U.S. influence.”

Alex Vatanka, an Iranian-born analyst at Washington’s Middle East Institute, told Al Arabiya News earlier this year that although an anti-American spirit has continued since 1979, many Iranians - particularly the younger generation who grew up after the revolution - hold U.S. culture and products in high esteem.

In August, just weeks after the nuclear accord was completed in Vienna between the Islamic Republic and six world powers, U.S burger giant McDonalds posted a franchise application for Iran on its website.

Despite the absence of American brands, Halal KFC is not the only knock-off fast food eatery in Iran - where intellectual property laws are lax.

Other restaurants in the Islamic Republic with suspiciously Western-sounding names include Kabooki Fried Chicken, Mash Donalds, Subways, and Pizza Hat.

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