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European Union regulators have ruled that McDonald’s must give up trademark rights to one of its flagship products, the Big Mac. The decision has emerged from a long-running dispute with an Irish fast-food chain called Supermac’s.
David v Goliath
The US giant argued that Supermac’s sounds confusingly similar to Big Mac, agreed to in an earlier ruling from the European Union’s Intellectual Property Office in favor of McDonald’s. Supermac’s, with outlets mainly in rural Ireland, had to to suspend its plans to expand in Europe. This time the office accepted the Irish firm’s argument that McDonald’s had not properly registered its Big Mac trademark. The David v Goliath dispute saw a company with annual revenue of about $93 million taking on the $22.8 billion global US giant. The dispute started in 2014 when McDonald’s opposed Supermac’s application for a European Union trademark for its name. the case came down to the similarity between Supermac’s and Big Mac, the only McDonald’s brand using Mac instead of Mc. At the time, the Intellectual Property Office ruled that the fact that both Macs came after a similar qualifier, ‘super’ and ‘big,’ could ‘result in a likelihood of confusion.’ However, Supermac’s argued that McDonald’s had never correctly registered its right to the Big Mac trademark in the first place.
Pat McDonagh, the founder of Supermac’s, explained the Supermac name was his nickname as a boy from his time playing Gaelic football. Mr McDonagh called McDonald’s a global ‘trademark bully,’ and says he now plans to register the Supermac’s trademark Europewide and restart planning an expansion into British cities with large Irish populations. McDonald’s can appeal the decision.