An Irish restaurant chain has won a significant trademark battle against global fast food giant McDonald’s.
Co Galway-based Supermac’s challenged the worldwide burger chain to cancel the use of the Big Mac and Mc trademarks.
It submitted a request to the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) in April 2017 to cancel the use of the Big Mac and Mc trademarks that McDonald’s has registered in certain classes.
Supermac’s claimed McDonald’s engaged in “trademark bullying; registering brand names… which are simply stored away in a war chest to use against future competitors”.
Now the EUIPO said that McDonald’s had not proven genuine use of the contested trademark as a burger or as a restaurant name.
A McDonald’s spokesperson said the company plans to appeal against the decision.
The battle comes after McDonald’s previously succeeded in stopping Supermac’s plans to expand into Great Britain and Europe on the basis of the similarity between the name Supermac’s and the Big Mac.
Supermac’s currently has 116 restaurants across Ireland, including three in Northern Ireland. Following this judgment, it now hopes to expand into the Great Britain and Europe.
Supermac’s managing director, Pat McDonagh, said that the judgment represents a victory for small businesses all over the world.
“We knew when we took on this battle that it was a David versus Goliath scenario, but just because McDonald’s has deep pockets and we are relatively small in context doesn’t mean we weren’t going to fight our corner,” he said.
“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.
“We have been saying for years that they have been using trademark bullying.
“They trademarked the SnackBox, which is one of Supermac’s most popular products, even though the product is not actually offered by them.”
He added: “This is the end of the McBully. This decision by the European Trademark Office is also an indication of how important the European institutions are to help protect businesses that are trying to compete against faceless multinationals.”
A spokesperson for McDonald’s said the chain was disappointed by the decision, and believes it did not take into account the substantial evidence submitted by McDonald’s “proving use of our Big Mac mark throughout Europe”.
“We intend to appeal the decision and are confident it will be overturned by the EUIPO Board of Appeals,” they said.
“Notwithstanding today’s decision, McDonald’s owns full and enforceable trademark rights for the mark Big Mac throughout Europe.”