Business Irish

Sunday 17 December 2017

McDonald's hits back at Irish firm Supermac's in brand war

Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

Gordon Deegan

Fast food giant McDonald's has hit back in the brand war with Supermac's, by accusing the Irish firm of seeking to take unfair advantage of the US company's world-wide brand.

In a fresh twist in the ongoing European brand war between the makers of the Big Mac and the Snack Box, McDonald's has also accused the Galway firm of trying to benefit from McDonald's long-established brand by making the trademark application for Supermac's to the EU.

The charges are contained in McDonald's objection to Supermac's application to register its trademark to sell its curry chips, snack boxes and other fast foods in EU locations outside Ireland.

It is now almost one year since the EU Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (OHIM) rejected a previous application by Supermac's. That followed strident opposition from McDonald's.

In a 24-page ruling, the OHIM agreed with McDonalds that Supermac's application for a trade-mark was likely to confuse the public over the two different fast food brands and their fast food products.

In the David and Goliath struggle - in 2015 it took less than two days for McDonald's to earn Supermac's entire revenues of €116m for that year - Supermac's subsequently appealed that decision before withdrawing the appeal and instead lodging a fresh application.

Now, in response, McDonald's has lodged a raft of documents with the OHIM supporting its case opposing the Supermac's trademark application.

The curry chip and snack box are synonymous with the Supermac's brand, which was built up over almost 40 years by Supermac's boss Pat McDonagh, and the war doesn't affect Supermac's booming Irish business.

However, it does threaten to halt the firm's international expansion plans.

In the comprehensive objection, McDonald's has told the EU that the Supermac's brand clearly fits into the McDonald's family of 'Mc/Mac' trademarks.

McDonald's said its products including the McFlurry, McNugget, McSalad and McCrispy - and they also have registered trade-marks.

McDonald's state: "Due to McDonald's long and continuous use of the 'Mc' and 'Mac' terms, these terms have become widely and exclusively associated with McDonald's by consumers throughout the European Union."

The US giant states that when being confronted with the Supermac's brand in relation to contested goods and services, the public will inevitably believe the goods come from McDonald's.

The maker of the Big Mac states: "Even if the public were able to distinguish between the marks themselves, it is likely that the public would believe that the Supermac's mark is used to identify a new service from McDonald's offerings of 'Mc'/Mac' products."

The fast food giant states that as a result of its well-known "Mc" or "Mac", it is likely that the public would believe that the use of the Supermac's brand simply identifies a new service in the "Mc/Mac" product line of McDonald's.

McDonald's state that the "new" application by Supermac's is identical to the one that was rejected last year.

The US corporation states that the reasons in that EU decision apply equally in the current case.

Supermac's founder and managing director Pat McDonagh was unavailable for comment yesterday.

On lodging the revised application in August, Mr McDonagh said he was optimistic that the application would succeed this time around. He said: "We will keep fighting until we succeed."

Irish Independent

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