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Origin of name 'Supermac's' revealed as Irish fast food brand goes to legal war with McDonald's

It seems that Pat McDonagh, founder of the Galway fast food franchise, was nicknamed Supermac when he was in school in Co Westmeath.

pjimage Source: Rollingnews.ie

SUPERMAC’S HAS CLAIMED that the true motivation behind McDonald’s opposition to it operating across Europe is to prevent it from becoming a real and substantial competitor to the fast food giant there.

That is according to the Galway based fast food operator which has told the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) that “given the success of Supermac’s in Ireland and the UK, success in Europe would be highly achievable”.

Supermac’s claims that McDonald’s motivation in opposing its expansion is not to avoid confusion or injury between the two brands and the claims are contained in a 51-page submission lodged by Supermac’s to the EUIPO in the latest round of the brand wars between the two.

Supermacs supremo, Pat McDonagh, said today that he is “very optimistic” that the application will be successful.

He said: “There is absolutely no likelihood of confusion now or in the future between the two brands.”

Supermacs has told the EUIPO that its business “is iconic in Ireland and beloved of Irish people, many of whom now live abroad, including across Europe”.

The firm states that expanding its brand into Europe “arises from a real commercial imperative”.

It states that the imperative to launch its brand in Europe “is in response to the growing demand by the emigrant Irish diaspora for access to products and services familiar to them at home in Ireland”. “Supermac’s expansion into the wider European market would cater to this demand.”

David and Goliath

In the David and Goliath battle, Supermac’s has been trying to operate its brand in Europe since 2014 and already, an earlier brand application was turned down in 2016 by the EUIPO after an objection by McDonald’s.

Supermac’s lodged a revised application in 2016 with McDonald’s objecting once more. The Irish brand has left nothing to chance this time in its lengthy submission.

The documentation explains the genesis of the contentious Supermac’s brand name in the business established by Ballinasloe man McDonagh.

File Photo Fast food chain Supermacs is to create 400 jobs, with the opening of six outlets between now and the end of June. End. Pat McDonagh Source: RollingNews.ie

The Supermac’s submission states that as a keen schoolboy footballer in the 1960s at the Carmelite College in Moate, Co Westmeath, Pat McDonagh’s moniker was ‘Supermac’ which was a pun on his surname and the comic book character ‘Superman’ suggesting that as a player, he had superpowers.

The Supermac’s submission includes a letter from the former President of Moate College, Jimmy Murray, confirming that Pat McDonagh while a pupil “became known as ‘Supermac’ because of his unique role as a member of the college football team”.

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Supermac’s states that the brand derives from Mr McDonagh’s nickname and was without any reference to McDonald’s “and entirely independent of it and certainly without any intention to associate the business with that of McDonald’s”.

The submission states that Supermac’s has operated since 1978 as Supermac’s in Ireland without any complaint from McDonald’s whatsoever.

Infringement

The submission states that no correspondence or other contact has ever been received by Supermac’s from McDonald’s alleging infringement of its Irish trade marks.

Supermac’s argues that the two businesses have traded without confusion or any other mistake in Ireland for 40 years and in Northern Ireland for 11 years.

The submission states that in some places, the restaurants operate in close proximity to each other, for example at Headford Road, Galway, and on O’Connell Street in Dublin, and has provided photographs to illustrate that.

Supermac’s claims that McDonald’s opposition potentially constitutes an abuse of its dominant position in the European fast food market in that it serves to prevent Supermac’s entering the European market and freely competing with McDonald’s there.

A decision is expected by the EUIPO on the application in the next number of months.

About the author:

Gordon Deegan

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