McDonald's loses trademark dispute over Big Mac

eIt's one of those David vs. Goliath stories that also happens in business today. Local companies that prevail against major corporations. An Irish chain called Supermac has denounced and won McDonald's European trademark rights on the Big Mac.

Supermac's is not that small. The chain was founded in 1978 and has over a hundred restaurants spread all over the Irish island - including Northern Ireland. The menu reads like any other fast food restaurant. There are burgers of different sizes: with a pattie, with two and even with three. The one with two patties and three slices of bread is called "Mighty Mac". And this Mighty Mac was obviously too powerful for McDonalds now.

"Brand bullying"

McDonald's thought the burger labels were too similar to those of their burger. Supermac's sound like Big Mac, they said. Therefore, the company has repeatedly prevented the expansion of Supermac's into other European countries. Supermac's did not want to put up with that and filed a petition for the withdrawal of Big Mac trademark protection. That was on April 11, 2017. The Irish are talking about "brand bullying" that McDonald's operates.

The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) has now announced on 11 January that EU trademark protection for the Big Mac will be repealed with retroactive effect from 11 April 2017. The explanatory statement explains that trademarks would only be protected if they were actually used. So you want to prevent companies protect brands, just to hurt competitors. McDonald's should have proven that it has used this brand in Europe over the past five years.

McDonald's has tried exactly that and submitted affidavits from its sites in Germany, France and the UK. The said that with the brand Big Mac significant sales were made. In addition, examples of packaging, brochures, advertising posters, McDonald's websites, and the Wikipedia article on the Big Mac were submitted.