McDonalds, world’s largest fast food chain has lost a trademark for ‘Big Mac’ registered in 1996, as part of the ruling by European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). The EUIPO ruling is a big win for Supermac’s, an Irish fast food chain having 106 restaurants across Ireland.
The ruling stated that McDonald’s has failed to prove any genuine use of the trademark in five years prior to 2017 when the case was initially filed. The fast food giant had argued that the use of the word ‘Mac’ by Supermac would end up confusing customers. As part of evidence to the continued use of the trademark by the company, it submitted printouts of posters and postings on European websites, affidavits from representatives of the company and packaging photos to prove active use of ‘Big Mac’ in Europe.
The EUIPO judgment said that although the material provided by the company refers to the use of ‘Big Mac’ name but the company has not provided any proof of sales of the product in Europe. Pat McDonagh, CEO of Supermac’s said that this has given a stern warning against trademark bullying by multinational giants who hoard trademarks with no intention to use and only register them in order to threaten future competitors.
Mr. McDonagh told BBC News that McDonalds manages to suppress competition by registering obscure trademarks and that the company has already registered words like Mac Internet and Mac Country. Supermac’s managed this victory through the efforts of dedicated team and a fair hearing by the EUIPO.
According to Mr. McDonagh, McDonalds has also secured a trademark for SnackBox, one of Supermac’s most popular product offering, which it doesn’t use. The EU regulators stand is clear, ‘’either use it or leave it’’. The IP judgment has cleared path for Supermac’s expansion plans in other European markets including Greater Britain. The judgment which is immediately operational all across Europe lifts any bar on the use of ‘Big Mac’ by companies.
A Connecticut University law professor Willajeane McLean, said that McDonalds has a history of being extremely litigious in trademark violation. In 1993 , it secured a court order to block a dentist in New York to start services under the name ‘McDental’, more recently in 2016 it stopped a company based in Singapore to register ‘MCCOFFEE’ as a trademark in EU.
Supermacs is a Galway, Ireland based fast food chain having 106 restaurants spread across Ireland. The company’s CEO also said that the decision by the EUIPO has affirmed their confidence on EU institutions so that they can go to EU and get a fair hearing.