Business Irish

Monday 26 September 2016

McDonagh says McDonald's not showing respect in row

Gordon Deegan

Published 27/06/2015 | 02:30

Pat McDonagh inside the O'Connell Street branch of Supermacs. Picture; Gerry Mooney
Pat McDonagh inside the O'Connell Street branch of Supermacs. Picture; Gerry Mooney

Supermac's boss Pat McDonagh yesterday accused fast food giant, McDonald's of showing "disrespect" in its brand war with the Irish firm.

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Mr McDonagh was speaking after returning from Alicante in Spain where he hand delivered Supermac's response to McDonald's opposition to his firm using its name across Europe.

"This is one we have to win. We will fight this to the last. We can't be curtailed in how we want to expand outside Ireland. What McDonald's is doing in opposing our expansion is anti-competitive," he said

"I don't think they have shown any respect towards us as I don't see any basis for the objection and I would question why it was lodged in the first place. Is it because they are feeling the pressure after a fall in business? I can't say."

Last year, McDonald's global sales fell by 2pc to $27.44bn. During the same period, Supermac's - which employs 2,700 here - achieved a record-breaking €100m in revenues.

Mr McDonagh also described as "insulting" McDonald's offer from a number of months ago to withdraw the objection if Supermac's withdrew its application to register the Supermac's name as a trademark across the EU.

Mr McDonagh travelled on Thursday to deliver the submission to the EU Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (OHIM), saying: "The fact that I travelled over to Spain to hand deliver the documents shows how seriously we are taking this." Mr McDonagh said the firm has had 25 to 30 requests from parties in 15 different cities across the world looking to open Supermac's over the past two years.

The firm can only proceed with the planned business expansion if it wins the trademark battle with McDonald's.

"The nickname 'Supermac' was imparted on me during my gaelic football days with Carmelite College, Moate.

"It is as much part of me as the surname I was born with and it is outrageous to think that I would change my name to suit McDonald's," he said.

"This is the name upon which myself and the Supermac's team have built a solid business over so many years."

The former national school teacher added: "It is most important to point out that Supermac's has traded alongside McDonald's in Ireland for over 30 years without a single complaint from any member of the general public."

A 12-page letter lodged by Mr McDonagh and his wife, Una, with the EU Office points out that Supermac's lead products, the Snack Box and curry chips "are themselves distinctive brand leaders" and not similar in content to any products offered by McDonald's.

The McDonaghs say if McDonalds succeeded "it would be akin to offering McDonald's a monopoly in the market and would act against the good interests of the public, consumers and the single market". The two state they "query the motivation of McDonald's in objecting to the use of the brand name at this point after almost four decades of silence in Ireland and seven years in the UK.

Supermacs has employed Cruickshank Intellectual Property Attorneys to submit a 17-page document to respond to the technical points raised by McDonald's along with numerous appendices.

In its objection, McDonald's states that the Irish firm using the name Supermac's in the EU would "take unfair advantage of the distinctive character and repute of" McDonald's earlier-won trademarks.

The US giant is basing part of its objection on the trademarks it has secured for its 'Big Mac', 'Chicken McNuggets', 'McMuffin', 'McFlurry' and 'McFish' and claim the bid to register 'Supermac's' is likely to create confusion in relation to McDonald's trademark products.

A spokeswoman at the OHIM said McDonald's now has the option to respond to the points raised by Supermac's.

A spokeswoman for McDonalds said yesterday: "As with all companies around the world, McDonald's defends the values of our brand, including our trademarks. These actions are intended to protect consumers against confusion and prevent others from taking unfair advantage of our trademarks."

Irish Independent

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