The moment everyone’s been waiting for is finally here, the McDonalds Corporation has lost its rights to the trademark “Big Mac” in a European Union case ruling in favor of Ireland-based fast-food chain Supermac’s, according to a decision by European regulators.
While this may not be exciting news to all, it’s definitely good news for competitors of the infamous Big Mac. Following a 2017 request by Supermac’s, the European Union Intellectual Property Office has ruled that McDonald’s had not proven genuine use of the term “Big Mac” as a burger or restaurant name.
Pat McDonagh, the founder and owner of Supermac’s, said McDonald’s had become a global “trademark bully.” “The name Supermac comes from when I used to play Gaelic football — that was my nickname as a boy,” he said. “We felt we should be allowed to use any part of my own name we liked so long as it doesn’t infringe on anyone else’s name.”
The trademark dispute is not the first time that competitors have challenged McDonald’s trademarks. It’s not even the first time that a smaller company has taken home this championship belt. In 2009, a Malaysian chain won the right to call itself McCurry after an eight-year battle with the fast food chain.
McDonald’s has historically been “extremely litigious” in the area of trademark law and typically does not lose, said Willajeanne McLean, a law professor at the University of Connecticut. In 1993, McDonald’s won a court order blocking a dentist in New York from selling services under the name “McDental.”
In the case of the Supermac, McDonald’s cited its company name and many “Mc”-branded products — McFlurry, McNuggets, McMuffin. But the case came down to the similarity between Supermac’s and Big Mac, the only McDonald’s brand using Mac instead of Mc.
The ruling will now enable other companies to use both “Big Mac” and even “Mc” in some cases in Europe. More significantly, however, the ruling is a win for the Irish chain, which had been blocked from expanding into the U.K. and Europe due to the similarity between its name