BBC News published an article titled McDonald’s loses second ‘Mc’ trademark case against Supermac’s (6 August 2019).

« McDonald’s has lost its exclusive claim to the “Mc” trademark on some of its food products within the EU after a dispute with an Irish fast food chain. Supermac’s, which owns more than 100 fast food restaurants in Ireland, complained to the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). »

« However, the EUIPO upheld McDonald’s right to own the “Mc” trademark on chicken nuggets and some of its sandwich products. »

« The ruling also stated that as both firms had succeeded in some parts of the case and failed on others, each party must pay its own costs. »

« The latest EUIPO ruling revokes McDonald’s automatic trademark rights to the use of the term “Mc” on a long list of food products, drinks and restaurant services within the EU. »

« Supermac’s was founded by Galway businessman Pat McDonagh in 1978 and is now the largest Irish-owned fast food restaurant firm in the Republic of Ireland. »

« The Irish firm claimed that McDonald’s had never used the prefix ‘Mc’ in a standalone sense, but only in combination with other words to brand their products. »

« Supermac’s argued that ‘Mc’ was a “very common prefix for surnames throughout Ireland, the United Kingdom and elsewhere throughout the European Union”. It pointed out that there were a huge number of pubs, hotels, restaurants, and food products which contain the prefix ‘Mc’ as part of a surname. »


According to Intellectual Property Law: Legal Aspects of Innovation and Competition by Kurt M. Saunders, a mark must be used in commerce, meaning “bona fide use of a mark in the ordinary course of trade… The merchant must use the mark in conjunction with a genuine offer or sale of the goods or services to consumers in such a way as to identify the good or services and distinguish them from others…. Token or sham sales, or infrequent uses of the mark, are not considered actual use of the mark because such uses are insufficiently public to make the known to consumers. Likewise, use of the mark internally within a business is not actual use since it does not put consumers on open notice of the mark as an indicator of source.”

 

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