February 12, 2015

The ‘Mac’ name is caught up in legal dispute with fast food giant

McDonald’s has lodged a comprehensive objection to its rival’s application – in a 41-page document – with the EU Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market.

The objection is partly based on the trademarks for its distinctively named products like Big Mac, Chicken McNuggets, McMuffin and McFlurry, with McDonald’s claiming that if Supermac’s is successfully registered it is likely to cause customer confusion over its trademarked products.

McDonald’s has argued that there is sufficient evidence the public could be falsely led to believe that its competitor is actually a part of its own business.

Supermac’s, a business based in Galway, has also faced a legal challenge to its trademark being registered in Australia, with McDonald’s raising the same objections as those in Europe.

However, Pat McDonagh, managing director of Supermac’s, said: “I am optimistic that common sense will prevail and the objection will be seen for what it is.

“I am surprised that an objection has been lodged.”

Mr McDonagh emphasised that the two company’s brands are distinctive enough in colour, design and font to ensure people know the difference between them.

The issues are of legal interest and the outcome not certain. The worldwide status and reputation (the goodwill) of Mcdonald’s is beyond doubt but the argument that Supermac’s will cause confusion in the minds of consumers is not. Supermac’s has been trading in Ireland since 1978, without difficulty (so they say). Where is the evidence of confusion?

Further, the owner Pat McDonagh points at that Mac has been his nickname all his life so he is only trading in his own name and not passing off his business as McDonald’s. Shades of life imitating art (ever so slightly). Anyone recall the burger restaurant ‘McDowell’s’ in the Eddie Murphy film, ‘Coming to America’?

At Royds we understand the value and importance people and businesses place on protecting their Intellectual Property (IP) rights. We focus on safeguarding IP rights to deter infringement and to ensure that our clients are able to maximise the full value of their IP assets.

For more information on IP, please visit our IP section or contact Stephen Welfare.

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