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McDonald’s has lost an EU trade mark battle against fellow rival Supermac’s for its “Big Mac” mark in relation to chicken burgers sold in the EU.

In 2017, a smaller fast-food chain based in Galway Ireland, tried to register an EU trade mark for “Supermac’s” but this was opposed by McDonald’s. In response, Supermac’s director Pat McDonagh alleged non-use against McDonald’s mark which was registered in 1996. After a seven year battle, the European Court of Justice, being the EU’s highest court, held that McDonald’s could not show it had made genuine continued use of the term ‘Mac’ for a period of five years. This is presumably because McDonald’s has the item on the menu for limited periods of time.

Following the judgment, McDonald’s has now lost the exclusive right to use “Big Mac” in respect of poultry products and restaurants and it remains to cover red meat burgers for which it was originally registered. In essence, McDonald’s can still use the term but in turn it now allows other companies the opportunity to use it as well.

The position on McDonald’s UK mark remains to be seen as EU law no longer applies to UK trade marks following Brexit.

If you have any questions on the above, feel free to contact a member of the team at 0191 281 4000 or alternatively at legal@mcdanielslaw.com.

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