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The world's biggest fast-food chain is trying to force Supermac's to change its name

McDonald’s says the word ‘super’ will make people think the Irish company has a better product.

FAST-FOOD GIANT MCDONALD’S has been accused of using complaints about Supermac’s name as a “delaying tactic” to stall the Irish chain’s international expansion plans.

The US company, which operates about 34,000 outlets across the world, has filed a 41-page complaint with the EU’s Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market about Supermac’s pending bid for a Europe-wide trademark.

Supermac’s, which in comparison runs over 100 outlets across the island of Ireland, put in its application in March last year, but McDonald’s fought it on the basis that “visually” and “orally” the names were similar because they both included “Mc” or “Mac”.

“Conceptually, noteworthy is that the element ‘Super’ will be perceived as an indication of a very high-quality product,” McDonald’s said in documents filed with the regulator.

The company also claimed Supermac’s European trademark would “give rise to confusion amongst the public” in the European Community as well as leading to “unwarranted association” between the two companies’ products.

But Supermac’s founder and managing director Pat McDonagh told TheJournal.ie there was “absolutely no comparison” between the two companies’ logos.

I think it’s as much a delaying process as anything else. Things are costly when they go to this level so I suspect that they thought they would outmuscle us.”

McDonagh said McDonald’s hadn’t complained about his company’s name in the more than 35 years it had been trading in Ireland and it was only now that Supermac’s had plans for overseas expansion that the bigger chain had complained.

It isn’t for me to say why they’re doing this, but their sales have dipped a bit in the US and internationally so they are probably fighting for market share. The market’s getting more competitive out there, so everyone’s fighting for their corner.”

Supermacs Fast Food Restaurants Source: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

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Australian, UK plans on foot

McDonald’s has also been fighting Supermac’s attempt to register its name in Australia ahead of a planned launch in the antipodean nation.

McDonagh said his company was also planning to expand in the UK “in the next couple of years” and he hoped to be able to keep the Supermac’s brand name – but he would go ahead with the roll-out regardless.

In its documents, McDonald’s pointed to a string of other companies it had fought about names including “McWilly Express”, ”McBaby”, “McMed” and “Mc Aroni”.

“The terms ‘Mc’ and ‘Mac’ are used to identify menu items and other food-related service prepared, sold or rendered by McDonald’s,” it said.

Due to McDonald’s’ long and continuous use of the ‘Mc’ and ‘Mac’ terms, these terms have become widely and exclusively associated with McDonald’s by consumers throught the European Community. The mark ‘Supermac’s’ clearly fits into the opponent’s family of ‘Mc’/'Mac’ marks.”

As well as causing potential confusion, McDonald’s complained allowing Supermac’s to register its name across Europe would “take unfair advantage of the distinctive character and the reputation associated with the opponent’s trademarks”.

READ: Turns out that health advice about cutting fats from your diet is flawed >

READ: Will calorie counts on menus put you off your restaurant dinner? >

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About the author:

Peter Bodkin  / Editor, Fora

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