McDonald’s loses exclusive right for chicken burgers in EU

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After an order by the EU's highest court, McDonald's no longer has the sole right to use the label "Big Mac" to refer to chicken burgers sold in the European Union.
After an order by the EU's highest court, McDonald's no longer has the sole right to use the label "Big Mac" to refer to chicken burgers sold in the European Union.

After an order by the EU’s highest court, McDonald’s no longer has the sole right to use the label “Big Mac” to refer to chicken burgers sold in the European Union.

Court Ruling Opens Door for Competitors

McDonald’s no longer holds the exclusive right to use the label “Big Mac” for chicken burgers in the European Union, following a ruling by the EU’s highest court.

The American fast-food giant, which popularized the “Big Mac” for its large burger sandwiches and registered it as a trademark in the EU in 1996, faced a legal challenge from the Irish chain Supermac.

The European Court of Justice found that McDonald’s failed to demonstrate genuine use of the trademark for a continuous period of five years in relation to poultry products.

Legal Battle with Supermac

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The ruling allows other companies to use the name “Mac” to sell poultry products or include it in their chains’ names. McDonald’s stated that the court’s decision does not affect its right to use the “Big Mac” trademark for beef burgers.

However, the decision is a significant victory for Supermac, which brought the challenge. Founded in 1978 in Galway, Supermac sells beef and chicken burgers and chicken nuggets across its 120 outlets in Ireland.

Supermac’s Victory Over Trademark “Bullying”

Supermac’s managing director, Pat McDonagh, welcomed the ruling, describing it as a “common-sense approach to the use of trademarks by large multi-nationals.”

McDonagh accused McDonald’s of using its trademarks to bully smaller firms and stifle competition. The dispute began in 2017 when McDonald’s blocked Supermac from registering its name as a trademark to expand outside Ireland.

McDonagh argued that McDonald’s was not actively using the “Mac” trademark for restaurants, and thus, other firms should not be prevented from using it.

Implications of the Ruling

McDonald’s emphasized its iconic Big Mac’s popularity across Europe and expressed excitement about continuing to serve local communities. The company has not indicated whether it will appeal the decision.

The ECJ’s ruling revokes McDonald’s trademark for restaurants and poultry products, retaining it only for the original red-meat burgers. Supermac’s continues to be in a trademark dispute with McDonald’s in the UK, where post-Brexit EU trademark law no longer applies.

A Win for Small Businesses

McDonagh celebrated the ruling as a victory for small businesses standing up to powerful global entities, likening the battle to a David versus Goliath scenario. The decision is seen as a vindication for small businesses that challenge the dominance of large multinationals in trademark disputes.

Gary Monroe

Gary Monroe is a seasoned contributor to the Los Angeles Business Magazine, where he offers insightful analysis on local business trends and economic developments. With a focus on Los Angeles' dynamic commercial landscape, Gary's articles provide valuable perspectives for entrepreneurs and business professionals in the city.

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