McDonald’s loses chicken ‘Big Mac’ trademark battle

The sign outside a McDonald’s restaurant. File

The sign outside a McDonald’s restaurant. File

Published Jun 6, 2024


MCDONALD’S has lost a legal battle against an Irish fast food chain after a top EU court yesterday ruled that the global chain could not exclusively call its chicken burgers Big Mac.

The long-running fight began in 2017 when Supermac's of Ireland sought to have McDonald’s Big Mac trademark revoked in the EU after the US giant opposed the Irish chain’s own trademark application in the bloc.

The EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) initially upheld Supermac’s application, but later on appeal reaffirmed the trademark protection for McDonald's Big Mac hamburgers.

Yesterday, the Luxembourg-based General Court altered the EUIPO's decision, ruling that McDonald's could not claim protection for the chicken version of its iconic burger, though the original beef one remains trademarked.

"The General Court holds that McDonald’s has not proved that the contested mark has been put to genuine use as regards the goods ‘chicken sandwiches’, the goods ‘foods prepared from poultry products’“ and associated services, it ruled.

The McDonald's Chicken Big Mac, which contains two сhicken cutlets, cheese, lettuce, onions, pickled cucumbers and the special Big Mac sauce, is more widely available outside the EU.

McDonald’s can appeal the decision at the EU's highest court.

In a statement, McDonald's acknowledged the ruling, which it said “does not affect our right to use the ‘Big Mac’ trademark”.

Supermac's managing director, Pat McDonagh, welcomed what he called a “common sense” ruling.

“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,” McDonagh said in a statement.

The ruling “represents a significant victory for small businesses throughout the world”, he said.