McDonald's Marketing Legal

Supermac’s tastes victory in McDonalds Big Mac 'trademark squatting' dispute


By John Glenday, Reporter

January 16, 2019 | 3 min read

Irish burger chain Supermac’s has taken on McDonald’s at its own game and won after celebrating a landmark legal victory to have the 'Big Mac' and 'Mc' trademarks cancelled in Europe.


Supermac’s taste victory in McDonalds Big Mac trademark dispute

The decision by the European Union Intellectual Property Office was based on findings that the global burger provider had failed to prove genuine use of the contested trademark in its signature dish or its restaurant name.

This clears the way for Supermac's to roll out its expansion plans across the UK and Europe having previously been thwarted by the US firm owing to the potential for confusion arising from the Supermac’s and Big Mac branding.

Supermac's managing director Pat McDonagh commented: “The original objective of our application to cancel was to shine a light on the use of trademark bullying by this multinational to stifle competition.

“We have been saying for years that they have been using trademark bullying. They trademarked the SnackBox, which is one of Supermac's most popular products, even though the product is not actually offered by them.”

Commenting on the potential ramifications of the decision Carissa Kendall-Windless, senior associate at intellectual property law firm EIP, said: “This decision is a significant one, partly because it serves as a warning to multinational companies that they can no longer simply file trademark applications without a genuine intention to use it (a bit like cybersquatting but instead “trademark squatting”).

"Furthermore, it acts as a timely reminder that in these ‘David Vs Goliath’ cases, the smaller company may be legally advised, stubborn and keen to clear its own brand pathway, and thus does not always roll over and concede to the demands and objections of the larger multinational."

A McDonald’s spokesperson vowed to overturn the ruling on appeal and confirmed they would continue to enforce trademark rights on the term ‘Big Mac’.

Having won their legal fight Supermac’s is now in a position to register its own name as a trademark across the continent.

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