Fast-food giant McDonald’s has lost its ‘Big Mac’ European trademark to Irish chain Supermac’s. The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) determined that the world’s largest fast-food chain hasn’t proven “genuine use” of the contested term.
The case ruling allows other restaurants, including McDonald’s, to use the ‘Big Mac’ name within the EU. However, McDonald’s retains its ownership of the ‘Mc’ trademark for certain core menu items.
Long-Standing Fast Feud
Supermac’s founder Pat McDonagh says they’re overjoyed with their unique victory over the golden arches. He says this is a big win for small businesses, proving that they can take on bigger names in legal battles.
Supermac’s has 116 stores, all of which are in Northern Ireland and Ireland. By total number of branches, it is 0.3 per cent the size of McDonald’s.
The legal dispute between McDonald’s and the Irish fast-food chain started in 2017 when Supermac’s tried to expand in Great Britain and Europe. The burger giant opposed the expansion, saying that due to its long-running use of the ‘Mc’ term, people might confuse Supermac’s as one of its products or subsidiaries.
McDonald’s further argued that Supermac’s would be taking ‘unfair advantage of the distinctive character and repute’ of the iconic ‘Mc’ branding, particularly the ‘Big Mac’ name. The Ireland-based chain challenged the trademark and won in a David-versus-Goliath scenario.
McDonald’s can still appeal the judgement to reinstate its ‘Big Mac’ trademark in the EU. The EUIPO updated the status of the ‘Big Mac’ trademark to ‘cancellation pending’ in the registration database.
Following the court ruling, several fast-food chains took advantage of McDonald’s loss of the ‘Big Mac’ trademark by releasing products with similar names. Burger King and Hungry Jack were some of the brands that trolled the golden arches.
Not the Big Macs
Burger King released a new menu selection called ‘Not the Big Macs’. Available only for a limited time in Sweden, the burgers were existing Burger King products but with teasing names, such as ‘Anything but a Big Mac’, ‘Like a Big Mac but actually big’ and ‘The burger Big Mac wished it was’.
Trolling McDonald’s isn’t new for Burger King. Before the ‘Not the Big Mac’ campaign, the burger chain had a similar hackvertising stunt. It promoted its new Big King XL burger by saying that it has 175 per cent more beef than a Big Mac.
Burger King also lets customers exchange their expired MacCoins for a free Big King XL. MacCoin tokens are a part of McDonald’s 50th anniversary celebration for the Big Mac, but they were only redeemable until December 31, 2018.
Hungry Jack’s, an Australian fast-food franchise also got into a legal battle with the golden arches due to its Big Jack burger. McDonald’s argued that this product is very similar to the Big Mac, from its name to its ingredients.
McDonald’s claims that Hungry Jack’s purposely imitated the appearance of the Big Mac. The golden arches also says that the Australian brand acted in ‘bad faith’ by registering for the ‘Big Jack’ trademark when it was fully aware of the existing McDonald’s trademark.
McDonald’s seeks damages and the destruction of all Big Jack promotional materials.
Hungry Jack’s claims that it has not yet been served any formal documents and is unable to comment.
Trademark infringement issues are common within the fast-food industry. New players may find it difficult to establish their brand when faced with industry giants. Trademark specialists can help startups register their trademarks and protect their intellectual property.
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