PAT McDonagh was an Irish teenager who earned the nickname Supermac after a barnstorming performance in a Gaelic football match in the late 1960s. Half a century later, McDonagh has excelled in an arena, different from sports. He has won a legal battle against McDonald over the use of trademarks.
The Galway-based firm was able to persuade the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) for cancelling McDonald's use of the “Big Mac” trademark. The EUIPO, which is based in Alicante, Spain, ruled that McDonald's had not proven genuine use of Big Mac, which it trademarked in 1996, as a burger or restaurant name. This administrative decision, if remains the same, would open the way for Supermac to expand across Britain and continental Europe. McDonagh opened the first Supermac's in Ballinasloe, a town in county Galway, in 1978. The company now has 106 outlets across Ireland and Northern Ireland.
“We're delighted. It is a unique victory when you take on the golden arches and win,” McDonagh, Supermac's managing director said. “This is a victory for all small businesses. It prevents bigger companies from hoarding trademarks with no intention of using them,” he further added. In another statement, Supermac's said it had won a David versus Goliath battle against trademark bullying by a powerful multinational company.
McDonald's had unsuccessfully argued that similarity between Big Mac and Supermac would confuse customers. “We said there would be no confusion. Big Mac and Supermac are two different things,” said McDonagh.
“They trademarked the SnackBox, which is one of Supermac's most popular products, even though the product is not actually offered by them,” said McDonagh. “The EU is basically saying either use it or lose it.” According to him, on the day of the Brexit vote in Westminster, this case on intellectual property law showed the value of European Union membership. “You can go to the EU and get a fair hearing.”
McDonald's did not immediately respond to a request by The Guardian for comment. However, McDonald's can still appeal against the ruling.