June 16, 2024

Big Mac combo is seen on a restaurant table.

Big Mac combo is seen on a restaurant table.
Image: NurPhoto (Getty Images)

McDonald’s no longer has exclusive rights to use the ‘Big Mac’ trademark when it comes to chicken products in the European Union, the region’s court of justice said on Wednesday.

According to the court’s ruling, McDonald’s failed to provide evidence that it used the phrase with certain food items for five consecutive years, Reuters reported. McDonald’s trademarked the term back in 1996, with a stated intention to use it for a wide variety of food items, including “edible sandwiches,” “coffee substitutes,” “chicken sandwiches” and “desserts.” However, the scope of McDonald’s public use of the term Big Mac in the EU appears to be limited to its well-known double-decker cheeseburger — although McDonald’s sells a related chicken product in India.

The EU’s ruling was the latest development in an ongoing trademark battle between McDonald’s and a smaller fast food chain. In 2017, McDonald’s filed a case against Supermac, arguing that the Irish company’s use of a similar phrase would confuse customers. In 2019, Supermac won its case against McDonald’s, but McDonald’s appealed the decision, which was administered by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO).

Nonetheless, McDonald’s still plans to use ‘Big Mac’ phrasing for its beef sandwiches, the chain said in an email to Reuters.

Meanwhile, Supermac’s founder and chief executive Pat McDonagh dubbed the decision a “David versus Goliath” moment. The CEO went on to call the ruling a “vindication of small businesses everywhere that stand up to powerful global entities.”

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