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McDonald’s loses its chicken 'Big Mac' trademark battle in the EU

The European Union General Court has ruled that McDonald’s does not have an exclusive right to use ‘Big Mac’ for its chicken sandwiches.

The European Union General Court ruled Wednesday that McDonald’s does not have an exclusive right to use the “Big Mac” trademark for the sale of its chicken sandwiches in the European Union.

According to BBC, McDonald’s registered a trademark for “Big Mac” in the EU in 1996. That trademark, however, was legally challenged in 2017 by 120-unit Supermac, an Irish burger and chicken chain founded in 1978. The Irish chain said McDonald’s blocked its founder Pat McDonagh from registering “Supermac” as a trademark as the smaller company targeted growth outside of its home country. Through its court battles, McDonagh argued that McDonald’s was not using its trademark for restaurants, however.

The general court agreed; after a seven-year legal battle with Supermac over use of the right to use “Mac,” the court noted that McDonald’s could not show it had made “genuine use of the trademark for a continuous period of five years,” and therefore couldn’t meet sufficient requirements under EU intellectual property law. This ruling paves the way for Supermac’s expansion into other EU countries. McDonagh said the objective of this battle was to “shine a light on the use of trademark bullying by this multinational to stifle competition.”

Notably, with the court’s ruling, McDonald’s can still use Big Mac but others can also use the trademark for poultry items.

“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,” the company said in a statement. McDonald’s has not hinted at whether it will appeal the ruling to the EU’s top court, the Court of Justice.

This ruling comes about a year after another major QSR trademark battle in which Taco Bell filed legal petitions to cancel Taco John’s “Taco Tuesday” trademark. Like Supermac, Taco John’s accused the bigger chain of bullying, however Taco Bell’s efforts paid off and the Taco Tuesday trademark was dropped.

Contact Alicia Kelso at [email protected]



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