McDonald’s Loses ‘Big Mac’ Trademark Legal Battle in the EU

Belin, Germany - 20 December 2022: McDonald's symbol on a board in the city street

The European Union General Court last Wednesday ruled in favor of the Irish-based fast food restaurant Supermac’s in its long-running battle to remove the fast food giant of its Big Mac trademark in the EU.

The court ruled that the American fast-food company failed to prove that the Big Mac name had been used for its chicken sandwiches or restaurants over the last five years.

The legal battle erupted after the Galway-based Supermac’s applied to register the company name in the European Union as part of its plan to expand into other EU countries.

McDonald’s objected, saying the company name would confuse European consumers since McDonald’s already registered the trademark for the name Big Mac.

In response, Supermac’s filed a petition in 2017 with the EU’s Intellectual Property Office to revoke McDonald’s trademark registration, arguing that the company could not prove that the name was used for specific categories that are not hamburgers in the previous five years, the length of time a trademark must be used in the EU to retain its trademark registration.

After the petition was partially approved, McDonald’s appealed the decision to the General Court.

The Irish Supermac’s portrayed the court’s decision as a David versus Goliath-style win, with managing director Pat McDonagh accusing the American fast-food giant of “trademark bullying to stifle competition.”

McDonagh said in a statement that the court’s ruling was “a common-sense approach” to the way large multi-national companies exploit trademarks. He said the court decision represented a “significant victory for small businesses.”

While Supermac’s does not sell a sandwich called Big Mac, it does sell a similar sandwich called Mighty Mac.

McDonald’s, which could appeal the decision to the European Court of Justice, noted in a statement that the General Court’s ruling would not affect the company’s “right to use the ‘BIG MAC’ trademark.” It said it would continue to serve the Big Mac which is “loved by customers all across Europe.”