McDonald’s loses Big Mac trademark case to Irish fast food brand

Global fast food company McDonald’s has lost the “Big Mac” trademark across all of Europe. In a landmark ruling, the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) has ruled in favour of Ireland-based fast food chain Supermac’s.

The ruling repealed McDonald’s registration of the trademark, stating they had not proven genuine use of the term Big Mac as a burger or restaurant name over the five years before the case was made in 2017.

A win for the little guys

EUIPO concluded that the evidence provided by McDonald’s, such as printouts of European websites, posters, packaging, and affidavits from company representatives verifying Big Mac sales in Europe, were insufficient to support its case. 

“We’re delighted. It’s a unique victory when you take on the golden arches and win,” Pat McDonagh, Supermac’s managing director, said.

“This is a victory for all small businesses. It prevents bigger companies from hoarding trademarks with no intention of using them.”

Not only does this allow other brands — as well as McDonald’s — to use the name Big Mac within the EU, but also open the doors for Supermac’s to expand within the UK and Europe.

McDonald's loses Big Mac trademark to Irish brand Supermac's

Supermac’s said it had never had a product called Big Mac, but that McDonald’s had used the similarity of the two names to block the Irish chain’s expansion.

Pat McDonagh earned the nickname “Supermac” as an Irish teenager after a barnstorming performance in a Gaelic football match in the late 1960s.

McDonald’s trademark filings

It’s rare for McDonald’s, which is quick to take legal action when it comes to trademark law, to lose.

In 1993, McDonald’s successfully won a court order that prevented a dentist in New York City from selling services under “McDental.” In 2016, a Singapore company was barred from registering “MACCOFFEE” as a EU trademark. And in 2018, McDonald’s also claimed that a burger chain’s alpaca burger called “Big Pac” infringed upon its Big Mac. 

Although the current ruling takes immediate effect, McDonald’s can still appeal.