McDonald’s Loses ‘Big Mac’ Trademark Battle Against Irish Chain Supermac’s

The European Court of Justice rules against McDonald’s in a trademark dispute with Supermac’s, blocking the use of the 'Big Mac' name for chicken burgers and marking a significant victory for small businesses.

McDonald’s has lost a significant legal battle with Irish fast food chain Supermac’s over the use of the Big Mac trademark.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled against the US restaurant giant, preventing it from using the Big Mac brand for its chicken burgers.

The ECJ, the continent’s second-highest court, sided with Supermac’s, which argued that McDonald’s had not made genuine use of the Big Mac name. Pat McDonagh, managing director of Supermac’s, hailed the decision as a “significant victory for small businesses” worldwide, emphasizing the triumph of David over Goliath.

McDonagh stated, “We knew when we took on this battle that it was a David versus Goliath scenario. 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.”

This ruling marks the latest development in the ongoing trademark dispute between the two fast-food chains. McDonald’s registered the Big Mac trademark for meat and chicken dishes across the EU in 1996. Supermac’s challenged this in 2017, leading to the EU Intellectual Property Office partially revoking McDonald’s registration in 2019, which allowed Supermac’s to use the Big Mac name.

However, McDonald’s was still permitted to use the name for its meat and chicken sandwiches, prompting Supermac’s to appeal. The ECJ has now altered the previous ruling, stating that McDonald’s failed to demonstrate a “genuine use” of the Big Mac name for its products, or when opening restaurants and drive-through outlets.

McDonald’s retains the option to appeal this ruling to the Court of Justice of the European Union, the highest court in Europe.

McDonagh criticized McDonald’s for years of “trademark bullying,” highlighting that the US company had trademarked SnackBox, a popular item at Supermac’s, despite not offering the product itself. McDonagh founded Supermac’s in 1978 after being denied permission to build a pool hall. The chain, now boasting 100 restaurants across Ireland, offers a double beef patty burger similar to the Big Mac, called the Mighty Mac.

A McDonald’s spokesperson responded to the ruling by saying, “The decision by the EU General Court does not affect our right to use the ‘BIG MAC’ trademark. 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.”

This decision is seen as a landmark victory for small businesses standing up against global corporations, setting a precedent for future trademark disputes.