Supermac’s wins long-running trademark battle with McDonald’s in landmark European judgement
Supermac’s has won its long running case against the fast food giant, McDonald’s, to have the use of the iconic Big Mac trademark cancelled.
In a landmark judgement by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) on Tuesday, the office said that McDonald’s had not proven genuine use of the contested trademark as a burger or as a restaurant name.
The ruling brings to an end a long-running dispute between the fast food chains, which arose after McDonald's objected to Supermac's plans to use its name in Europe on the basis that it would “take unfair advantage of the distinctive character and repute of” trademarks previously won by McDonald’s.
The Europe-wide judgement on Tuesday states that there was no evidence provided by McDonald’s that refers to genuine use. In its judgement, the EUIPO stated:
“It follows… that the EUTM proprietor has not proven genuine use of the contested EUTM (European Union trade mark) 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.”
In 2017, Supermac’s formally submitted a request to the EUIPO to cancel the use of the Big Mac and Mc trademarks that McDonald’s has registered in certain classes. It was also decided that McDonald’s bear the costs for the revocation.
Supermac’s asked the EU regulator that this take effect immediately 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”.
McDonald’s had previously succeeded in putting a stop to Supermac’s plans to expand into the UK and Europe on the basis of the similarity between the name Supermac’s and the Big Mac. This EUIPO judgement means that the main argument put forward by McDonald’s is now gone.
Commenting on the landmark ruling, Supermac’s MD, Pat McDonagh, said: “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.
“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,” McDonagh added.
“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.
“We can be proud to be part of a Europe in which all are equal. Small is no longer a disadvantage. We wholeheartedly welcome this judgement as a vindication of small businesses everywhere that stand up to powerful global entities.”