Irish fast food chain takes bite of McDonald’s Big Mac

Wkimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 2.0 Author: William Murphy

Irish fast food chain Supermac’s won an important trademark court case at European level against US fast food giant McDonald’s over the name of the iconic burger Big Mac.

The EU General Court, the second highest EU court below the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), ruled on Wednesday that McDonald’s failed to prove it was using the Big Mac label for more than five years prior to that start of the case on its chicken sandwiches, poultry products or restaurants.

The court case was long and complicated and started when Galway-based Supermac’s wanted to register its name for future EU expansion. In 2017, it filed a request to the EU’s Intellectual Property Office against McDonald’s, claiming that the US company didn’t use the Big Mac trademark outside of burgers over a period of five years. According to EU trademark law, if a company doesn’t use trademark, after five years it can be taken away.

McDonald’s appealed the decision in front to the EU court after the trademark regulator partially approved Supermac’s request. The ruling of the General Court explicitly said that “McDonald’s has not proved that the contested mark has been put to genuine use.”

Supermac’s approved the decision, with Managing Director Pat McDonagh saying that “this is a significant ruling. It represents a significant victory for small businesses throughout the world.” The Irish company has a sandwich similar in style and ingredients to the Big Mac, dubbed the Mighty Mac.

McDonald’s commented that the decision will not affect the usage of the Big Mac trademark for its iconic burger, part of the company menu since 1968. McDonald’s may still appeal the decision to the CJEU but only for law-related issues.

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