Snigger, McDonald’s Loses European Union Trademark Upon “Big Mac”

This is unlikely to be one of those judgments or rulings that stands although there’s sometimes a certain mystification as to European Union law – McDonald’s seems to have just lost the European trademark to “Big Mac” as a name for a burger. The idea that this doesn’t extend out, wide enough, to stop someone else having something called a “Supermac” seems fair enough. But losing the Big Mac mark looks very odd indeed:

McDonald’s has been stripped of its European Union trademark for the Big Mac hamburger in humiliating defeat after a “David and Goliath” legal battle with Supermac’s, an Irish fast food chain. In a landmark judgment with immediate effect, the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) said McDonald’s has failed to prove “genuine use” of the Big Mac trademark as a burger or restaurant.

Reading it like that, and just like that, it all seems most odd. Sure, given the continental penchant for jots and tittles upon documentation it’s possible that that’s what they mean. In any sensible, for which read Anglo Saxon, legal system they quite obviously do have a trademark there. For do note that trademark law is different from patent and copyright, even if stemming from the same source.

Is Big Mac strongly associated with McDonald’s? Do they use the name, significantly? Sure they do and it is. That’s pretty much a trademark therefore. Yes, obviously, registration and all that. And how wide that is is an interesting thought. Maccy D uses Big Mac about burgers, that doesn’t stop some small Scotsman releasing a record under the name, records are different from burgers.

McDonald’s Corp has lost its rights to the trademark “Big Mac” in a European Union case ruling in favour of Ireland-based fast-food chain Supermac’s, a decision from the EU’s Spain-based Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) showed. The judgement, provided to Reuters by Supermac’s, revoked McDonald’s registration of the trademark, saying that the world’s largest fast-food chain had not proven genuine use of it over the five years prior to the case being lodged in 2017.

That’s insane though.

“McDonald’s had previously succeeded in putting a stop to Supermac’s plans to expand into the UK and Europe on the basis of the similarity between the name Supermac’s and the Big Mac,” it said. “This EUIPO judgement means that the main argument put forward by the US company is now gone.”

I’ve a strong suspicion that this ruling is being read wrong at some level. A ruling that Big Mac is not a trade mark seems ludicrous. One that it is, that it applies to McDonald’s burgers, but that for that to prevent Supermac being used as the name of a restaurant chain would be too wide an application of that mark would make sense. Sure, expecting sense out of the European bureaucracy is to be a tad naive but…

After all, why shouldn’t an Irish burger chain be able to name itself after a British Prime Minister?

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