An Irish fast food chain called Supermac’s has announced it will expand to the U.K., with plans to open branches in London following a recent victory over McDonald’s, with whom it has been engaged in a series of trademark disputes.
As first reported by the Irish Independent, Supermac’s — which operates over 100 restaurants in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland — had been challenged by the American fast food giant over its use of the Mc prefix in the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). The EUIPO has ruled that McDonald’s cannot enjoy a complete monopoly over that prefix; others are free to use it, but will be subject to a “proof of use test.” McDonald’s keeps, for example, its trademark right over McChicken nuggets.
Pat McDonagh, managing director of Supermac’s, characterised his company — Ireland’s biggest fast food business — as “small,” its battle a case of David versus Goliath. He might also have used it to attack those in support of Brexit: “The judgment is an indication of how important the European institutions are to help protect businesses that are trying to compete against faceless multinationals,” he said. “We can be proud to be part of a Europe in which all are equal. Small is no longer a disadvantage.”
McDonagh also told the Irish Independent that the company was “targeting the U.K. first and especially London and the greater London area, as there is a huge Irish market over there.” The success of the burger — especially in the last decade, with the arrival of Shake Shack and Five Guys from America, as well as the growth of London-born brands like Meatliquor, Honest Burgers, and Patty and Bun — won’t have been lost on the managing director.
Supermac’s latest victory comes after the EUIPO ruled in January that certain trademarks owned by McDonald’s, including BIG MAC (in all capital letters), were to be revoked. One of the Irish company’s most familiar products is the Mighty Mac, though it serves a range of familiar fast food items, including a cheese burger (two words), smokey bacon burgers, [chicken] nuggets, and cod and chips.
McDonald’s for their part appeared publicly unfazed: “The EUIPO upheld McDonald’s EU registration for the trademark “Mc” standing alone for certain core menu ... This decision does not impact McDonald’s ability to use its Mc-prefixed trademarks or other trademarks throughout Europe and the world, and McDonald’s will continue to enforce its rights,” a spokesperson said.
No timeline has yet been given for when Supermac’s might arrive in the U.K.