Burger King Ribs McDonald’s After Loss of ‘Big Mac’ Trademark in the E.U.March 1, 2019

In mid-January of 2019, McDonald’s lost its rights to the trademark ‘Big Mac’ in a European case which ruled in favor of an Irish fast food chain, Supermac’s. Supermac’s, founded in 1978 by Gaelic football player Pat McDonagh, offers a burger called the ‘Mighty Mac’. McDonald’s asserted that the ‘Mighty Mac’, along with other Supermac’s offerings, created confusion among consumers. In turn, Supermac’s argued that McDonald’s persistent legal intrusions prevented the chain from growing beyond Ireland.

Interestingly, the European Intellectual Property Office determined that McDonald’s failed to prove “genuine use” of the ‘Big Mac’ trademark in Europe, meaning McDonald’s had no exclusive right to the name. McDonald’s plans to appeal the decision by the E.U. intellectual property office, but in the meantime, other fast food competitors have taken advantage of McDonald’s loss.

After McDonald’s lost the ‘Big Mac’ trademark, a Burger King in Sweden began featuring menu options drawing direct comparison to the Big Mac. For example, the new menu included options such as, “The Like A Big Mac, But Actually Big” while another was re-named “The Burger Big Mac Wished It Was”. Others critiqued the quality of the Big Mac, claiming, “The Kind of Like a Big Mac, But Juicier and Tastier” and “The Anything But A Big Mac”.

Burger King took the trolling a step further, releasing a video of customers awkwardly trying to order burgers from the new menu. This is not Burger King’s only crack at McDonald’s: last December, Burger King offered its Whoppers for a penny if customers ordered through the Burger King app from a McDonald’s parking lot.

Sarah M. Luth is an Associate Attorney in the Biotechnology & Chemical Patent Practice Group at McKee, Voorhees & Sease. For additional information, please visit www.ipmvs.com or contact Sarah directly via email at sarah.luth@ipmvs.com.

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