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McDonald’s loses chicken Big Mac trademark battle with Irish rival

Christmas lights are hung above the logo outside a McDonald's restaurant in Lisbon, Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021. (AP Photo/Armando Franca)
Christmas lights are hung above the logo outside a McDonald's restaurant in Lisbon, Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021. (AP Photo/Armando Franca) Copyright Armando Franca/Copyright 2021 The AP. All rights reserved
Copyright Armando Franca/Copyright 2021 The AP. All rights reserved
By Indrabati Lahiri
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Irish rival Supermac has also complained of McDonald’s trademarking the name Supermac, despite not offering any food items of this name.

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Fast-food giant McDonald’s has lost the right to use the ‘Big Mac’ name exclusively for its large chicken sandwich, in the European Union, following a recent ruling by the European Court of Justice. 

This was following a long-standing court case with Irish fast food rival Supermac, which sells chicken nuggets, as well as chicken and beef burgers all over Ireland. The ruling now allows other fast food or poultry companies to use the name ‘Mac’ both in their company names and for their food items. 

This decision was made after the European Court of Justice deemed that McDonald’s could claim to have made the best use of the trademark for the last five years. Furthermore, it also ruled that since McDonald’s was not using the name for any of its restaurants currently, it should leave open the opportunity for other restaurants to do so. 

Supermac had also alleged that its bigger rival McDonald’s had engaged in trademark bullying, using its hold on the name ‘Mac’ to make it difficult for chains like Supermac from expanding in the UK and the rest of Europe. 

Pat McDonagh, managing director of Supermac, said, as reported by The Telegraph, “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.” 

Supermac has previously complained about McDonald trademarking the name SnackBox, which is the name of one of the former’s best-selling offerings, despite McDonald’s not having anything with this name on its own menu. 

The court’s ruling will now mean that McDonald’s can only keep the ‘Big Mac’ trademark for its red meat sandwiches, but not for its chicken and poultry products.

McDonald’s has not revealed whether it would be contesting the European Court of Justice’s decision. However, in the UK, Supermac and McDonald’s remain at loggerheads, due to the EU trademark law not being applicable post-Brexit. 

McDonald’s sees controversy following free meals for Israeli soldiers

In the last few months, McDonald’s has faced a wave of criticism for providing thousands of free meals to Israeli soldiers. This has led to the company being one of the fast-food chains targeted by the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. 

In its defence, McDonald’s has emphasised that all its franchisees acted independently, without any influence from the company and that it would not be taking sides in the Israel-Hamas conflict. 

However, the controversy has still led to McDonald’s announcing that it would be buying back about 225 of its franchisee restaurants in Israel, run by Alonyal. This follows lacklustre sales as more customers have chosen to boycott fast food chains. 

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