Wednesday 18 September 2019

'It's like Connacht winning against the All Blacks': Supermac's CEO responds to Big Mac trademark success against McDonald's

  • Supermac’s wins long running battle against McDonald’s to have use of iconic Big Mac trademark cancelled across Europe
  • Irish firm formally submitted request to the European Union Property Office to cancel trademarks in April 2017
  • Landmark Europe-wide judgement has immediate effect
  • EUIPO says McDonald's had not proven genuine use of the Big Mac trademark as a restaurant name - or as a burger
Supermac’s boss Pat McDonagh. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Supermac’s boss Pat McDonagh. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Louise Kelly

Louise Kelly

Supermac’s has won a long running battle against McDonald’s to have the use of the iconic Big Mac trademark cancelled across Europe.

In April 2017, the Irish firm 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 had asked the EU regulator that this take effect 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".

Now, in a landmark Europe-wide judgement, that has immediate effect, EUIPO said that the multinational had not proven genuine use of the Big Mac trademark as a restaurant name - or as a burger.

"It follows from the above that the EUTM proprietor has not proven genuine use of the contested EUTM for any of the goods and services for which it is registered. As a result, the application for revocation is wholly successful and the contested EUTM must be revoked in its entirety. According to Article 62(1) EUTMR, the revocation will take effect from the date of the application for revocation, that is, as of 11/04/2017."

Speaking to Independent.ie following the decision, Supermac’s MD, Pat McDonagh said that the judgement represents a victory for small businesses all over the world.

Supermac’s boss Pat McDonagh
Supermac’s boss Pat McDonagh

"It doesn't matter how big or how small you are, it's great that you can get a hearing from the European office. I'm delighted with the result; I was hopeful for a positive outcome - but not to the extent to which we won," he said.

"It's been a long road, nearly four years, but it was worth it to help protect businesses that are trying to compete against faceless multinationals.

"Never mind David versus Goliath, this unique landmark decision is akin to the Connacht team winning against the All Blacks."

McDonald’s previously hit Supermacs 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.

This latest EUIPO judgement could mean that the main argument put forward by the US company is now gone.

"The original objective of our application to cancel was to shine a light on the use of trademark bullying by this multinational to stifle competition," said Mr McDonagh.

"We had a very good team working behind it and it took a lot of meetings and discussions to bring everything to this point.

"This now opens the door for the decision to be made by the European trademark office to allow us to use our SuperMac's as a burger across Europe. We are going to continue to pursue that."

Independent.ie contacted McDonald's for comment and a spokesperson for the global enterprise said: "We are currently considering our position."

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