McDonald’s Fast Food Chain Loses Big Mac Trademark

If McDonald’s iconic Golden Arches seem a bit dimmer in Europe today, there’s a reason. The EU General Court has ruled against McDonald’s in a case over its Big Mac trademark. This decision came after a long legal battle with Irish competitor Supermac’s. The Big Mac, which has been a staple on McDonald’s menu since 1968, lost its exclusive trademark status in Europe.

Source: SuperMacs’s

Supermac’s initiated this legal conflict in 2017 when it applied to register its name in the EU. McDonald’s responded aggressively, using its legal team to argue that customers might confuse a Big Mac hamburger with a restaurant named Supermac’s. This strategy did not go as planned for McDonald’s. Instead of forcing Supermac’s to change its name, McDonald’s lost its sole right to the “Big Mac” trademark.

Source: SuperMacs’s

Despite the court’s decision, McDonald’s stated that it can still use the “BIG MAC” name. The company emphasized that the Big Mac remains beloved by customers throughout Europe. McDonald’s remains committed to serving local communities and is looking forward to continuing this tradition.

Source: SuperMacs’s

Supermac’s offers a burger called the Mighty Mac. This burger features two Irish beef patties, cheese, lettuce, onion, ketchup, and burger sauce on a sesame seed bun. The Big Mac, on the other hand, consists of two beef patties, Big Mac sauce, pickles, lettuce, onions, and American cheese, also on a sesame seed bun. Clearly, there are distinct differences between the two.

Source: SuperMacs’s

In response to McDonald’s initial objections, Supermac’s challenged McDonald’s European trademarks. In January 2019, the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) ruled that several of McDonald’s trademarks, including Big Mac, should be revoked.

Source: Wikipedia

In 2023, the EUIPO Board of Appeals partially reversed this decision, allowing McDonald’s to keep the Big Mac trademark for poultry products and restaurant services but also allowing Supermac’s to use the Big Mac name for its products.

Source: SuperMacs’s

Unhappy with the partial reversal, Supermac’s took the case to the European Court of Justice. On June 5, 2024, the court ruled that McDonald’s had not sufficiently proven it used the Big Mac trademark for chicken products or restaurant services. This means that Supermac’s and other businesses can now use the “Mac” name for their poultry products and business names in Europe.

Source: SaltWire

However, McDonald’s still holds the Big Mac trademark for its beef burgers. This allows McDonald’s to continue selling its famous Big Mac without any changes.

Source: WorldMatrix

This ruling marks a significant change in the trademark landscape for McDonald’s in Europe. The decision allows more freedom for competitors like Supermac’s to use similar names, particularly in the poultry market.

Source: Quartz

Despite this setback, McDonald’s remains a dominant force in the fast-food industry. The company will likely continue to protect its trademarks and brand identity in other regions and markets.