General Industry

Big Victory For Supermac's In McDonald's Trademark Case

By Reuters
Big Victory For Supermac's In McDonald's Trademark Case

McDonald's does not have the exclusive right to the term 'Big Mac' for poultry products in Europe after five straight years of not using it, the region's second top court said on Wednesday, handing a partial win in a long-running trademark dispute to the US fast-food chain's Irish rival Supermac's.

The Luxembourg-based General Court's ruling centred on Supermac's attempt in 2017 to revoke McDonald's use of the name Big Mac, which the US company had registered in 1996 for meat and poultry products and services rendered at restaurants.

The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) dismissed Supermac's application for revocation and confirmed McDonald's use of the term for sandwiches using beef or chicken, prompting the Irish company to challenge the decision.

Supermac's

Supermac's, which opened its first restaurants in Galway in 1978 and had sought to expand in the United Kingdom and Europe, sells beef and chicken burgers as well as fried chicken nuggets and sandwiches.

The General Court rejected McDonald's arguments and partially annulled and altered EUIPO's decision.

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'Big Mac'

"McDonald's loses the EU trade mark Big Mac in respect of poultry products," judges ruled.

"McDonald's has not proved genuine use within a continuous period of five years in the European Union in connection with certain goods and services."

Chicken Big Mac

The US fast-food chain said in an email it can still use the Big Mac trademark, which it uses chiefly for a beef sandwich, and to continue selling its Chicken Big Mac.

"This decision will not in any way impact our ability to use or to protect the trademark against infringements," the company said.

'Big Win'

Supermac's founder Pat McDonagh told Ireland's Newstalk Radio the decision was "a big win for anyone with the surname Mac".

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"It does mean we can expand elsewhere with Supermac’s across the EU, so that is a big win for us today," he told the radio station.

'Huge Wakeup Call'

Trademark owners should pay attention to the ruling, said Pinsent Masons IP lawyer Matthew Harris.

"This is a huge wakeup call and owners of well-known trademarks cannot simply rest on the premise 'it is obvious the public know the brand and we have been using it'," he said.

"The case highlights that even global renowned brands are held to the same scrutiny when having to evidence genuine use of a trademark in a given territory."