McDonald’s is Under Fire for ‘Trademark Bullying’

Competitors are Fed Up

McDonald’s has been accused of many things: Producing and promoting unhealthy food, responsibility for the growing obesity rates in the US, poor corporate behavior – but now it’s facing a brand new charge: Trademark bullying.

What does this even mean? Well, the owner of an Irish burger chain NAMED McDonough has filed a complaint with the European Union Intellectual Property Office (or, in short, EUIPO), claiming that McDonald’s is stopping him from expanding into Europe. How? By trademarking any English word featuring the word Mc or Mac.

He might have a point. McDonald’s currently has trademark rights on a variety of words including McWorld, McKids, McFamily, McJob and even McInternet.

In 2016, the EU’s Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) rejected McDonough’s request to trademark his menu items saying that consumers could mistake Supermac’s items with McDonald’s products. OHIM gave Supermac’s a European trademark under the condition that the name will not be used to sell products such as hamburgers, poultry, meat and – interestingly enough – onion rings, outside of Ireland.

McDonough claims OHIM were pressured into the ruling by McDonald’s, who responded to his trademark request with a 41-page complaint with the EU.

McDonough, who said he chose the name for his Supermac’s restaurants echoing his college nickname, claims that McDonald’s actions impact anyone with names such as McDermott or McCarthy. Supermac’s has operated in Ireland since 1978 and currently has more than 100 restaurants.

Will EUIPO reconsider their decision following McDonough’s complaint?

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