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Now McDonald's can't stop all its rivals using the 'Mc' label

Tom Belger
Finance and policy reporter
McDonald's has lost a legal case over its 'Mc' trademark. Photo: Lefteris Pitarakis/AP

McDonald’s has lost a second legal battle over its ‘Mc’ trademark, with the EU scrapping a ban on other firms using the label on certain products.

The fast food giant was challenged by the Irish fast food rival Supermac’s, which took the issue to the EU’s intellectual property office that governs European trademarks.

McDonald’s had successfully trademarked the ‘Mc’ prefix on many types of food, drinks and restaurant services in 2012.

But Supermac’s argued the company had failed to show the trademarks were put to “genuine use” in its stores for the following five years, a requirement under EU law.

The EU body said in a decision announced this week to protect McDonald’s ‘Mc’ trademark for chicken nuggets and for sandwiches, saying it had demonstrated it actually used the labels.

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McDonald’s had to submit evidence from its stores, which included sending officials in Brussels documentary proof it had sold McNuggets, McChicken, McMuffin, McFlurry and Big Mac products in the UK.

But the authorities struck down the company’s wider trademark on ‘Mc’ use for restaurant services, and for any foods prepared from meat, poultry, fish, pork, vegetables, pickles or dairy products.

McDonald’s also no longer has an exclusive right to sell ‘Mc’-labelled coffee, tea, desserts, biscuits, chocolate, non-alcoholic drinks and syrups.

The ‘Mc’ row has been rumbling for years, with Supermac’s winning another partial legal victory in January but McDonald’s winning another other the similarity of its rival’s name to the Big Mac, according to the BBC.

"The Mc is back. We are delighted that the EUIPO found in our favour and that we can now say that we have rid Europe of the McDonald's self-styled monopoly of the term Mc," Pat McDonagh, founder and managing director of Supermac’s, told the BBC.

But McDonald’s pointed out in a statement to the BBC that its famous trademark had been upheld several items.

"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," it said.

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