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Supermac’s Wins In ‘Big Mac’ Trademark Dispute With McDonald’s

McDonald's logo on a pole

Irish fast food chain Supermac’s has secured a big victory in its ongoing trademark dispute with global burger giant McDonald’s. 

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled in favor of the Galway-based company, reinforcing a previous decision by the EU’s trademark authority. 

This marks a continuation of Supermac’s triumphs following their 2019 legal win, which forced McDonald’s to relinquish its Big Mac trademark in Europe. 

McDonald’s had appealed this decision.

The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) had previously ruled McDonald’s failed to demonstrate genuine use of the Big Mac trademark as a restaurant name. 

McDonald’s had registered the trademark in Europe under both food and restaurant name categories.

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This meant its lawyers could argue argue Supermac’s expansion could cause customer confusion.

Pat McDonagh, Supermac’s founder and managing director, described the initial ruling as a “David versus Goliath” battle. 

Despite McDonald’s subsequent appeal, the ECJ upheld the decision.

The ECJ stated McDonald’s did not provide sufficient evidence of using the Big Mac trademark to block Supermac’s expansion or in the context of selling chicken products.

It also noted McDonald’s had not proven genuine use of the Big Mac trademark for restaurant services or chicken products. 

This ruling further limits the trademark protection McDonald’s previously held. 

The court highlighted that while McDonald’s presented evidence of “Big Mac chicken” burgers sold in France in 2015 and 2016, this was insufficient to maintain the trademark.

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McDonald’s registered the Big Mac trademark in the EU in 1996, and Supermac’s filed for its revocation in 2017. 

The dispute began when Supermac’s considered expanding into the British market before Brexit. 

A separate trademark fight in the UK is ongoing, with a hearing expected later this year.

Supermac’s, which operates about 120 locations in Ireland, reported a profit of €28.9 million in 2022. 

McDonald’s said the ruling “does not affect our right to use the ‘Big Mac’ trademark”. 

The company said: “Our iconic Big Mac is loved by customers all across Europe, and we’re excited to continue to proudly serve local communities, as we have done for decades.”

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