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McDonald’s Loses EU Trademark Battle Over Big Mac Name

Luxembourg, June 06, 2024, The Europe Today: In a landmark decision on Wednesday, McDonald’s lost the exclusive right to the Big Mac name for poultry products in Europe after failing to use the trademark for five consecutive years. The ruling, issued by the Luxembourg-based General Court, marks a significant victory for the fast food giant’s Irish rival, Supermac’s.

The legal dispute began in 2017 when Supermac’s challenged McDonald’s Big Mac trademark in the European Union, aiming to revoke it as part of its expansion strategy into other EU countries. McDonald’s argued that Supermac’s use of the name would confuse customers due to its similarity to the Big Mac label.

Initially, the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) partially agreed with Supermac’s request but allowed McDonald’s to retain the trademark rights for beef and poultry meals, as well as for restaurant and drive-in services. However, Wednesday’s court decision imposed further restrictions on McDonald’s, specifically revoking the trademark for poultry products such as chicken burgers.

“McDonald’s loses the EU trademark Big Mac in respect of poultry products,” the court ruled. “McDonald’s has not proved genuine use within a continuous period of five years in the European Union in connection with certain goods and services.”

Supermac’s, headquartered in Galway, celebrated the ruling. Managing Director Pat McDonagh called it a “common sense” decision that highlighted the issue of trademark bullying by large multinationals. “This is a significant ruling that takes a common-sense approach to the use of trademarks by large multi-nationals. It represents a significant victory for small businesses throughout the world,” McDonagh stated.

McDonagh also told Ireland’s Newstalk Radio that the decision would facilitate Supermac’s expansion into other EU countries. “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,” he added.

While McDonald’s can still appeal the decision at the European Court of Justice, the highest legal chamber in the bloc, the company maintained that the ruling does not impact its ability to use the Big Mac label. “This decision will not in any way impact our ability to use or to protect the trademark against infringements,” McDonald’s said.

The decision marks a pivotal moment in trademark law within the EU, emphasizing the importance of continuous and genuine use of trademarks to maintain exclusive rights.