Trade Marks
Posted on 21/7/2015

A not-so-happy meal – McDonald’s v Supermac’s

Two fast food chains go head to head over a European trade mark application.

Major fast-food chain McDonald’s is currently in the midst of a greasy dispute with Irish company Supermac’s as they battle to prevent expansion into Europe.

Supermac’s has been open in cities within Ireland for 37 years.  The chain spread to Northern Ireland and now has plans to open restaurants across Europe, in at least fifteen new locations and in addition possibly Australia.

Not the tastiest treat

McDonald’s objections focus on the idea that the names “McDonald’s” and “Supermac’s” are too similar and would be likely to result in confusion amongst customers if the two co-exist outside of Ireland.

In the States, a representative for McDonald’s claimed that the progression of Supermac’s into Europe would take unfair advantage of the distinctive character and repute of the McDonald’s name.

In the claims, McDonald’s also argued that it’s not just the name that would cause confusion, but also that both brands are fast food chains, selling very similar food.

Are Supermac’s at risk of getting burnt?

Hitting back from the opposition, Supermac’s founder suggested he can see no issues if the chain expanded to Europe. Elaborating on this, he also claims that both chains have been open in Ireland and Northern Ireland for many years, and therefore it is doubtful that problems would arise should Supermac’s grow.

Taking trade mark matters into his own hands, Supermac’s founder recently checked in at the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) to provide an application for trade mark protection.

If you can’t stand the heat… get out of the kitchen

In a bid to put the hot spatulas down, McDonald’s originally offered Supermac’s the chance to walk away from the burger flipping battle on the condition that the chain did not seek protection in Europe.

Supermac’s are currently preparing a response to the opposition, but with such strong views it is unclear as to what the Irish company will serve up next.

Are you in the deep fat fryer?

If you need any advice on trade mark protection or any aspect of your intellectual property, please contact one of our highly qualified attorneys who will be able to assist you.

Wilson Gunn