Friday 28 April 2017

It's Mac war... Supermac's takes bite back at McDonald's in trademark battle

Pat McDonagh of Supermac’s
Pat McDonagh of Supermac’s
Louise Kelly

Louise Kelly

Supermac’s has just made its first substantial move against McDonald’s after suffering a blow in the international trademark war between the two fast food firms earlier this year.

The Irish firm has formally submitted a request to the European Union Property Office (EUIPO) to cancel the use of the Big Mac and Mc trademarks that McDonald’s has registered in certain classes.

Supermac’s asked the EU regulator that this take effect immediately on the basis that McDonald’s is engaged in "trademark bullying; registering brand names "which are simply stored away in a war chest to use against future competitors". 

"This means that if any McGrath, McCarthy or McDermott with a business idea uses their name in the title of that business or product the chances are McDonald's already own the trademark and you can probably expect a knock on the door from them," Supermac’s Managing Director McDonagh told independent.ie.

In February, McDonald’s hit the family-owned company with a 41-page objection against its plans to use the Supermac’s name in Europe stating that it would "take unfair advantage of the distinctive character and repute of" trademarks previous won by the global restaurant giant.

The US firm partly based its objection on already secured trademarks for its products such as the ‘Big Mac’ and ‘Chicken McNuggets’, claiming introducing Supermac’s into the market would cause confusion.

Founded by former teacher Pat McDonagh in 1978 in Ballinasloe, Supermac’s – known for the Mighty Mac double burger and the Chicken Snack Box – now pulls in revenues of around €100m.

If the objections of MacDonalds – which has recorded revenues of over $8bn in Europe alone in 2013 – are successful, Supermac’s planned expansion in the UK, EU and Australia will be halted.

"McDonald's has literally registered the McWorld. It is trying to make sure that every word in the English language belongs to them if there is prefix Mc or Mac put in front of it," Mr McDonagh said.

"They have trademarked words like McKids, McFamily, McCountry, McWorld, McJob and McInternet in order to, over time, squeeze out smaller family based businesses," he said.

Mr MacDonagh said that McDonald’s has trademarked the SnackBox which is one of Supermac’s most popular products and said the product is not actually offered by the US company.

The request by Supermac’s – which was submitted on Tuesday, April 11 – will be reviewed by the EUIPO and McDonalds will be given time to respond and/or object to the application.

The entire process could take between six and 12 months if McDonalds "try to drag it out", according to Mr McDonagh, but he remains optimistic in regards to the eventual outcome.

"We know that it’s a David versus Goliath scenario but just because McDonalds has deep pockets and we are relatively small in context doesn’t mean you shouldn’t fight your corner. And that’s what we intend to do."

A spokesperson for McDonalds said on Tuesday night that they were unaware of any new action by Supermacs.

"However, as with all companies around the world, McDonald’s defends the values of our brand, including our trademarks, to protect consumers against confusion and prevent others from taking unfair advantage of our trademarks,” the spokesperson told independent.ie

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