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  1. #1
    Administrator Prime Time's Avatar
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    McDonalds loses court case - and Big Mac trademark in Europe?

    This is an interesting story just breaking...


    Galway-based Supermac's has won its long running case against fast food giant McDonald's to have the use of the Big Mac trademark cancelled.

    In a landmark judgment by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), the office said that McDonald's had not proven genuine use of the contested trademark as a burger or as a restaurant name. Supermac's had formally submitted a request to EUIPO to cancel the use of the Big Mac and Mc trademarks that McDonald's has registered in certain classes. McDonalds 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. Supermac's said the judgement means that the main argument put forward by the US company is now gone.

    Supermac's managing director Pat McDonagh said it represents a victory for small businesses all over the world. "We knew when we took on this battle that it was a David versus Goliath scenario but just because McDonalds has deep pockets and we are relatively small in context doesn’t mean we weren’t going to fight our corner," Mr McDonagh said. "The original objective of our application to cancel was to shine a light on the use of trademark bullying by this multinational to stifle competition."

    He said: "We have been saying for years that they have been using trademark bullying. They trademarked the SnackBox, which is one of Supermac's most popular products, even though the product is not actually offered by them.This decision by the European Trademark Office is also an indication of how important the European institutions are to help protect businesses that are trying to compete against faceless multinationals."

    Speaking on RTÉ's Sean O'Rourke show, Mr McDonagh said that McDonald's had registered quite a number of names, right across the world, including "Mac internet" or "Mac Country". He said the decision opens the door for the company to register its own Supermac's in Europe as a trademark.

    So.... bit of a blow for McDonalds in this market and opens them up to more competition. More to the point, if they lose the trademark, there's going to be nothing stopping other people making something a bit like a Big Mac and calling it that.

    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."

  2. #2
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    Pretty sure McDonald’s is an American company that’s been around since the 50s and has all their ducks in a row when it comes to trademarks and what-not. Explain to me how a court decision in Europe trumps any of that.

    *I haven’t actually done any research, I’m just making assumptions. American juggernauts like McDonald’s don’t tend to not have all of this stuff constantly scrutinized by dozens of lawyers.

  3. #3
    Administrator Prime Time's Avatar
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    It won't affect their trademarks in America, but European laws apply to any business they do in Europe, and any trademarks they hold here.

    Same principle as writing before international copyright. Someone like Dickens had his work protected in the UK but it didn't stop Americans bootlegging his work and charging next to nothing for it because they kept all the profits. Which happened a lot.

    But yeah, no difference to the US and I expect McDonald's to appeal, but if its upheld then other people might be able to use various things that they'd had protected for decades throughout much of Europe.

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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prime Time View Post
    It won't affect their trademarks in America, but European laws apply to any business they do in Europe, and any trademarks they hold here.
    I guess this is what confuses me. (Again... assumptions.) But I’m assuming McDonald’s trademarks are based in America. So why would a European court be able to rule on it? Is it because of franchises being operated in Europe? Seems to me that courts could rule on labor laws or lawsuits brought against the franchise owner by customers, but that the European courts would have no jurisdiction over trademark stuff.

  5. #5
    Administrator Prime Time's Avatar
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    Like I say, a trademark lodged in America only works in America. You want to protect something internationally you need to have the same thing lodged in other territories, too.

    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."

  6. #6
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    A quick google search does indeed verify what you said. That’s quite interesting. Seems to me someone in McDonald’s corporate dropped the ball somewhere and is probably going to be looking for a new job soon.

  7. #7
    Administrator Prime Time's Avatar
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    The way it reads to me is not that there was anything wrong with their trademark, so much as they were too aggressive in trying to prevent people entering the market, so they've had the whole thing thrown out.

    Might be wrong, and if that is right I'd expect an appeal - but it reads to me like they've basically been accused of throttling the competition and unfair practice more than anything.

    Of course the knock-on effect here is that if you lose in Ireland, you lose across the EU simultaneously... That's a big market, all of a sudden.

    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."

  8. #8
    The real question is whether that Big Mac would have bacon on it or not

  9. #9
    Administrator Prime Time's Avatar
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    For the record, those are absolutely not Big Mac's...

    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."

  10. #10
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    Speaking of bacon (and this is somewhat off-topic, but this thread reminded me of it), during my first deployment to the Middle East back in 2003, once we finally got chow halls built and were able to have real food instead of MREs and C-Rats all the time, they served this... bacon-like meat. It was beef instead of pork because apparently, at the time, the chow halls weren't allowed to serve any type of pork because of us being in a Muslim country. It was later explained to me that it was "British bacon", and that was the norm in England. I didn't question it because the British guys that came around seemed to absolutely love it, while us Americans couldn't stand it. Any way, my question to you Brits is "do you actually eat beef bacon, or was what I was told just not true?" (I probably should've asked this in the "random questions" thread. Whatevs...)

  11. #11
    Administrator Prime Time's Avatar
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    Not true at all. No idea where that one came from. Our typical stuff is what you call Canadian Bacon. We call your stuff streaky bacon.

    Probably more details than you really wanted there huh?

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  12. #12
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    WTF... Bacon is pork.

    I'd love a big mac right now but I'm completely broke and if I did have any money the nearest MacDonalds is nowhere near. Can get a good kebab though.

    Most of the shops round here are Halal which can get a bit annoying to be honest.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Prime Time View Post
    Not true at all. No idea where that one came from. Our typical stuff is what you call Canadian Bacon. We call your stuff streaky bacon.

    Probably more details than you really wanted there huh?

    So... ham, yeah?

    Quote Originally Posted by The Dude View Post
    WTF... Bacon is pork.

    I'd love a big mac right now but I'm completely broke and if I did have any money the nearest MacDonalds is nowhere near. Can get a good kebab though.

    Most of the shops round here are Halal which can get a bit annoying to be honest.

    I miss being in Poland and getting fresh kebabs all the time. Food trucks are a big thing in America now, with taco trucks being probably the biggest. Being in Europe and getting fresh kebabs from a food truck was so great. Also used to get them in the Middle East whenever our convoy would stop.

  14. #14
    Administrator Prime Time's Avatar
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    We might call ham something different. If we're going to call bacon by a more specific name, it's 'back bacon', so you get more meat and less fat than is typical for Americans because you're eating from the animal's back, rather than it's belly.

    What we call ham is taken from a different part of the pig, I believe, and is also a lot less salty in the way it's been cured. I don't know if you're using the word differently from how we do it, though.

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  15. #15
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    Ah, I think I see now. Our bacon comes from the belly is typically quite fatty and salty. As far as the Canadian bacon/ham thing... that was mostly just a joke. Most Americans can’t really tell the difference between the two. Canadian bacon gets called ham quite often, but ham is rarely mistakenly referred to as Canadian bacon.

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