McDonald's get their scampi in a bunch over burger joint's Effing Filet O' Fish

Leyland Cecco in Toronto

When Canadian chef Paul Shufelt decided to market a new burger at his Edmonton restaurant, he wanted to pay homage to the fast-food greats that have come before him – not find himself embroiled in a legal battle with a multinational corporation.

After creating a cod burger with coleslaw and red onions, Woodshed Burgers named their newest item the Effing Filet O’ Fish, a reference to both local company Effing Seafood, which provided the seafood, and the famous McDonald’s sandwich.

Related: McDonald's lawyers make a meal of Italian restaurant's name

“We serve burgers and fries. We don’t take ourselves too seriously and we’re a little bit tongue-in-cheek,” Shufelt told the Guardian. “If you follow us on Instagram at all, you would see that, you know, we’re meant to be playful and fun.”

For nearly half a year, the burger – served with homemade buns and condiments – was a hit with customers.

But it was less popular with lawyers representing McDonald’s.

On Wednesday morning, a firm representing the fast-food giant wrote to Shufelt, arguing that the company, which operates 36,000 restaurants worldwide, had worries the Effing Filet O’ Fish was “likely to cause confusion among consumers” and also could “diminish and dilute the strength of McDonald’s trademark”.

Shufelt dutifully complied with the request, removing the Effing Filet O’ Fish from the menu.

“As a small business owner, you open your inbox and there’s a letter from a lawyer telling you to cease and desist. There’s a moment of panic and anxiety,” said Shufelt. “But then you start reading it and you can’t help but laugh.”

The restaurant recently announced a new – and trademarked – burger: the McEffing Fish Filet.

“We’re changing the name and complying with what they want, but still taking a little jab at them.”

After posting images of the new burger on Instagram, the restaurant warned customers not to “confuse our McEffing fish burger with the McDonalds Fillet o Fish!”

Shufelt is flattered the fast-food giant is “worried about little old us, little old us” and the 30-odd fish burgers his restaurant sells each week. “At the end of the day, I feel like I should send a gift basket to the lawyers, thanking them for all the publicity.”