McDonald’s ‘Golden Arches’ removed at Russia restaurant as exit begins

McDonald’s famous “Golden Arches” at one of the company’s restaurants near Moscow were yanked down Monday as the fast-food giant begins its hasty retreat from Russia following Vladimir Putin’s brutal invasion of Ukraine.

Photos taken in the town of Khimki showed the instantly-recognizable logo and other signage had been removed and laid on the ground outside the McDonald’s restaurant. McDonald’s has indicated it will take similar steps at locations around Russia while shutting down operations.

McDonald’s is selling its Russian restaurants to Alexander Govor, who became a local licensee in 2015 and operates 25 locations throughout Siberia.

Govor agreed to operate the locations under a new brand, which has yet to be announced.

McDonald’s decision to pause operations in Russia earlier this year sparked fears that the company’s patents and trademarks could be under threat as Russian authorities retaliated against Western firms that exited the country.

McDonald's logo removed in Russia
McDonald’s famed Golden Arches and signage for the American fast-food giant sits in parking lot after being removed from a location near Moscow.

Those fears escalated in March after a trademark filing with the Russian government from a chain called “Uncle Vanya” included a red-and-yellow logo that closely resembled McDonald’s “Golden Arches” turned on their side. The trademark application has since been pulled.

McDonald’s has yet to publicly address the possibility that some form of trademark or intellectual property theft could occur in Russia following its pullout.

However, when McDonald’s first formally announced plans to exit Russia last week, the company noted that it planned to maintain its trademark protections within the country.

“The Company intends to initiate the process of “de-Arching” those restaurants, which entails no longer using the McDonald’s name, logo, branding, and menu, though the Company will continue to retain its trademarks in Russia,” McDonald’s said in a statement at the time.

McDonald’s did not immediately return a request for further comment on the situation.

Earlier this year, Putin warned 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 logo removed in Russia
McDonald’s stores in Russia will reopen under a new brand identity.
McDonald's logo removed in Russia
McDonald’s Russia exit sparked concerns about trademark theft.

McDonald’s said Govor had agreed to retain its existing employees within Russia for at least two years on “equivalent terms.” Govor will also pay the salaries of local corporate employees until the deal closes.

“The humanitarian crisis caused by the war in Ukraine, and the precipitating unpredictable operating environment, have led McDonald’s to conclude that continued ownership of the business in Russia is no longer tenable, nor is it consistent with McDonald’s values,” McDonald’s said in a statement on its exit.

McDonald’s is one of hundreds of Western companies that have left Russia in response to the invasion since the war began in late February.