Business Irish

Monday 23 April 2018

Battle of the burgers: Supermac's and McDonald's in name row

Pat McDonagh inside the O'Connell Street branch of Supermacs. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Pat McDonagh inside the O'Connell Street branch of Supermacs. Photo: Gerry Mooney
A man uses a mobile phone in front of a McDonald's restaurant in Tokyo

Gordon Deegan

American fast food giant McDonald's has hit Supermac's with a 41-page objection against its plans to use the Supermac's name across the EU.

Upping the ante in the international trademark war between the two fast food firms, McDonald's has lodged the comprehensive objection to the EU Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market against Supermac's (Holdings) application to register the 'Supermac's' trademark in the EU.

McDonald's, pictured, has also put on hold plans by the Galway-based firm to use the Supermac's name in Australia by objecting to its trademark there.

In the David and Goliath struggle between the two fast food businesses, the McDonald's objections, if successful, will stop Supermac's planned expansion in the UK, the EU and Australia in its tracks.

Former teacher, Pat McDonagh started his fast food business in 1978 in Ballinasloe and the Galway man has since popularised the Mighty Mac double burger and the Chicken Snack Box with revenues of around €100m now.

Worldwide, McDonald's serves 69 million people every day and recorded revenues of $8.14bn in Europe alone in 2013.

McDonald's state 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 already secured for its 'Big Mac', 'Chicken McNuggets', 'McMuffin', 'McFlurry' and 'McFish' and claim that application to register 'Supermac's' is likely to create confusion in relation to McDonald's trademark products.

In its objection, McDonald's argue that there is visual similarity between the two trademarks as they share the phonetically, visually and conceptually identical element of 'Mc/Mac'.

Supermac's managing director, Pat McDonagh yesterday described McDonald's objection as "spurious".

"I am optimistic that common sense will prevail and the objection will be seen for what it is. I am surprised that an objection has been lodged," Mr McDonagh said.

He said that there is no ambiguity between the two brands in colour, design or font.

He said: "I was born with the name 'Mac' in my name. I can't change that. 'Mac' is what I was known as when I was playing football in school."

Mr McDonagh confirmed that Supermac's will make its formal response to the McDonald's objection in the next number of weeks.

“The strongest point they make is that there may be confusion between the Supermac’s name and their own name," he added.

"Supermac’s and McDonald’s have grown and coexisted together within the family restaurant business in Ireland since 1978.

"As two very distinctive brands with immediately identifiable menus and a clear difference in ingredients and taste there has never been any confusion for our customers." 

 

Irish Independent

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