The Lowdown: Supermac’s versus McDonald’s

By Joe Lutrario and Helen Salter

- Last updated on GMT

Supermac’s versus McDonald’s

Related tags: Mcdonald's, Trademark, Fast food

The Irish fast food chain has won a court battle with the golden arches and may now be able to bring its restaurants to the rest of the EU.

Ronald must be livid...
It’s not great news for the world’s largest fast food company but it’s not nearly as grave for the brand as some news outlets are reporting. 

How so?
McDonald’s hasn't 'lost' the rights to the Big Mac as has been widely reported with inevitable comparisons to David and Goliath (although Supermac’s is probably bigger than you think with over 100 locations on both sides of the Irish border). It's simply lost one trademark dispute around the the suffix ‘mac’ in the context of restaurants and food (the EU ruled against it when it tried to block Supermac’s taking the brand outside Ireland and Northern Ireland). 

So this is all a storm in a Big Mac box?
As far as we can see, yes. Supermac’s (or indeed anyone else other than McDonald's) can’t sell Big Macs. It’s one of - if not the most - world’s most iconic menu items. The idea that McDonald’s could fail to prove it was currently in use is risible. The confusion seems to have derived from the legal dispute being dubbed ‘the Big Mac case’. Even Supermac’s has said that “it’s not a narrative that came from us”. 

Supermac’s must be lovin' it...
According to boss Pat McDonagh, the ruling signals "the end of the McBully". However, McDonald’s has the option to appeal the European Union Intellectual Property Office’s decision. Roy Crozier, partner and head of intellectual property at national law firm Clarke Willmott LLP, says this is likely the beginning of a long-running case. “McDonald’s will also have other Big Mac trade mark rights. Big companies lay landmines when it comes to these rights, if people don’t step on the first one they’ll step on the next one.” This isn’t the first (and won’t be the last) time McDonald’s has been caught in a prefix controversy. It recently won a broadly similar battle with Singaporean company MacCoffee.

Blimey, if he’s not careful they’ll be after his surname...

Related topics: Business & Legislation

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