McDonald's appears to have met its match in the form of Irish-based fast food chain Supermac's. The two restaurants had been engaged in a bitter trademark battle over the "Big Mac" - and news broke on Tuesday that a judge ruled against the American mega-corporation.
The result of the lawsuit means that Supermac's will be allowed to expand their chain throughout the United Kingdom, and that McDonald's no longer has the right to their "Big Mac" trademark in the European Union.
“We knew when we took on this battle that it was a David versus Goliath scenario but, just because McDonald’s has deep pockets, and we are relatively small in context doesn’t mean we weren’t going to fight our corner,” Supermac's owner Pat McDonagh told the Irish Times.
The lawsuit was a result of building tensions between McDonald's and Supermac's, after McDonald's attempted to stop Supermac's from expanding their chain throughout the EU. McDonald's argued that the name Supermac's would confuse customer's with McDonald's iconic Big Mac burger.
Supermac's referred to McDonald's legal tactics as “trademark bullying; registering brand names which are simply stored away in a war chest to use against future competitors."
The judgment in favor of Supermac's, which was handed down by the European Union Intellectual Property Office, ruled that McDonald's was not putting the Big Mac trademark to "genuine use." To make genuine use of a trademark, a company must utilize it to "guarantee the identity of the origin goods." Evidently, the EUIPO didn't feel that naming a burger the Big Mac was sufficient evidence that McDonald's was making genuine use of their trademark.
In an interesting twist, the legal decision also reportedly gives Supermac's the right to use the Big Mac trademark on any of their own food items.
The trademark, which has now been revoked, was originally granted to McDonald's for use in the European Union in 1996. McDonald's now has the opportunity to appeal the decision, should they choose to do so.