Should MacDonald’s fast food restaurants be entitled to object to any brand featuring “Mac” or even “Mc “by other food traders? MacDonald’s certainly thinks so which is why it has opposed a European Trade Mark (EUTM ) of the word SUPERMAC’S by Irish fast food chain Supermacs Ltd.
Supermac’s brand has coexisted in Ireland for over 30 years with the famous MACDONALDS name. However, when the Irish chain decided to expand internationally and filed an EUTM for SUPERMAC’S, MacDonald’s objected. Apart from claiming consumer confusion, MacDonald’s argues that “SUPERMAC’S” takes unfair advantage of its famous reputation in the food sector. It also dismisses as irrelevant the fact that both of these two fast food brands have coexisted for decades in Ireland.
The owner of Supermacs is reported to have said that his company should win the dispute if logic and common sense prevail. Without expert advice from a trade mark lawyer, you may well agree with the owner of Supermacs that logic and common sense say that consumers would not confuse “SUPERMAC’S” and “MACDONALDS”. But the law is not always a matter of logic or common sense!
In fact, in 2016 the EU General Court decided that the mark MCCOFFEE infringed McDonald’s trade marks.
We await the decision of the EUIPO in the SUPERMACS dispute which is likely to issue within the next few months. In the meantime, before you launch a new product brand or expand into a new market, you should get professional help from a trade mark expert who will work with you to ensure your brand is safely available for use and registration both in the UK and elsewhere. That way, you can avoid finding yourself on the wrong end of a trade mark dispute, having to go “mac to basics” for a new brand identity.
At the Trademark Hub, we have a wealth of experience in helping the full spectrum of brand owners – from sole traders and SMEs through to multinationals – to protect and enforce their brands and designs both in the UK, in Europe, and around the world. We will be delighted to help you.