On 5 June 2024, the General Court of the European Union issued a ruling in the dispute between the Irish fast food chain Supermac’s and the American fast food chain McDonald’s on the genuine use of the trademark “Big Mac”, registered by McDonald’s in 1996, for specific goods and services.

In 2017, Supermac’s applied to the European Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) to revoke the “Big Mac” mark for certain goods and services relating to the catering and consumption of poultry meat, claiming that McDonald’s had not made genuine use of the trademark in the European Union for a continuous period of five years in relation to those goods and services. The EUIPO partially upheld this claim, but confirmed trademark protection in relation to prepared meat and poultry foods, meat and chicken sandwiches, and services related to the operation of restaurants and eating facilities.

In response to the appeal against this decision, the General Court partially annulled and modified what the EUIPO had decided, further limiting the protection of the “Big Mac” trademark for McDonald’s to the extent that McDonald’s had failed to prove use of the mark in the EU for an uninterrupted period of five years in relation to the goods “chicken sandwiches” and “prepared foods made with poultry products” and the services associated with the operation of restaurants and eating facilities.

According to the judges, in fact, the evidence presented by McDonald’s did not provide sufficient indications on the extent of the use of the mark in relation to these goods and services, in particular with regard to the volume of sales, the duration of the period of use and the frequency of use of the mark.

Galway-based Supermac’s commented on the ruling, calling it “common sense” and significant for small businesses, insofar as – according to the Irish company’s managing director, Pat McDonagh – it highlighted the intimidating use of trademarks by multinationals to stifle competition.

McDonald’s can still appeal the General Court’s decision before the EU Court of Justice.