It's as much a part of the Kiwi culinary culture as fish and chips or hangi. But plans to revive the Georgie Pie brand could trigger a David and Goliath-style legal battle between a young entrepreneur and a fast-food giant.
Liam Hastings is planning to open GP Pies in West Auckland early next month with a drive-through service offering meal combos from 4pm.
The 26-year-old registered Georgie Pie Limited on the Companies Register last May, despite McDonald's buying the chain from Progressive Enterprises in 1996.
McDonald's New Zealand managing director Mark Hawthorne said his company owned all Georgie Pie copyrights and trademarks and would investigate further. "If the nature of what he's doing is a clear breach of our trademark we'd take action."
He said the company was considering a Georgie Pie comeback, not in standalone restaurants, but "integrated" into other outlets.
"We probably have discussed Georgie Pie in a more serious nature with our investors within the past few months," he said.
Hastings said a lawyer had given him advice on the design of the GP Pies logo, including its colours.
"We've been very careful in what we've done and how we've done it.
"Anything can be argued in this world, so [McDonald's] could very well [take action]. That's up to them, I suppose, how they want to play it."
Intellectual property lawyer Charlotte Henley, of Kensington Swan, said a registered trademark gave its owner exclusive use in New Zealand.
The owner could prevent unauthorised third parties from using a mark, or a confusingly similar one, in relation to the goods or services for which it was registered. Lawyers may consider issues such as similarities in design.
The trademark's owner could seek an injunction to prevent the further use of that mark and make claims for damages and costs.
But Henley said a registered trademark could be removed from the register if it was not used in trade for three years or more.
Earlier this month, Kaukapakapa mother Looie James was threatened with legal action by shoemaker Jimmy Choo over the name of her online store kookychoo.com.
In 2005, top fashion designer Trelise Cooper threatened to sue Arrowtown accessories maker Tamsin Cooper for alleged copyright infringement, when Tamsin used her full name on the labels.
The designers eventually settled, leaving Tamsin free to continue using her name.
GEORGIE PIE FACTS
The first Georgie Pie outlet opened in Auckland in 1977.
The chain's fame was helped by its Funtastic Value menu where everything cost $1, $2, $3 or $4.
Large pies were round and small pies a distinctive square.
McDonald's bought the chain from Progressive Enterprises in 1996, a move that signalled the beginning of the end.
A Facebook group called Bring Back the George started by students Drew Chappell and Gareth Thorne has more than 14,000 members.
Last September, the pair reportedly sold 350 pies, baked to the original recipe, in less than an hour.