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In Europe, McDonald's Loses The Chicken Big Mac Trademark

In Europe, McDonald's Loses The Chicken Big Mac Trademark
After five years without using the term "Big Mac" for poultry products, the European Court of Justice ruled on Wednesday that McDonald's does not hold the exclusive right to use it. This decision gives Irish rival Supermac's a partial victory in the ongoing trademark battle with the American fast-food chain.
The General Court in Luxembourg made a decision in response to Supermac's 2017 request to have McDonald's trademark the Big Mac, which the American corporation had registered in 1996 for use on meat and poultry items as well as restaurant services.
The Irish company filed a challenge after the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) denied Supermac's request for its application to be revoked and validated McDonald's use of the word for sandwiches made with beef or chicken.
Supermac's serves sandwiches, fried chicken nuggets, and beef and chicken burgers. It started out in Galway in 1978 and has since tried to grow throughout the UK and Europe.
McDonald's claims were dismissed by the General Court, which also changed and partially overturned EUIPO's ruling.
"McDonald's loses the EU trade mark Big Mac in respect of poultry products," ruling of judges.
"McDonald's has not proved genuine use within a continuous period of five years in the European Union in connection with certain goods and services."
The American fast-food giant stated via email that it is still able to sell the Chicken Big Mac and utilise the Big Mac trademark, which it primarily uses for a beef sandwich.
"This decision will not in any way impact our ability to use or to protect the trademark against infringements," the company said.
Pat McDonagh, the creator of Supermac, described the ruling as "a big win for anyone with the surname Mac" on Ireland's Newstalk Radio.
He told the radio station, "It does mean we can expand elsewhere with Supermac's across the EU, so that is a big win for us today."
Trademark attorney Matthew Harris of Pinsent Masons advised trademark owners to take note of the decision.
"This is a huge wakeup call and owners of well-known trademarks cannot simply rest on the premise 'it is obvious the public know the brand and we have been using it'," he said.
"The case highlights that even global renowned brands are held to the same scrutiny when having to evidence genuine use of a trademark in a given territory."
The highest court in Europe, the Court of Justice of the European Union, may hear an appeal of the decision.
T-58/23 is the case number. International Property of McDonald's v. EUIPO.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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