EU decision blocks Supermac's euro-expansion amid protests from McDonald's

Brussels thinks that English speakers won't be able to tell the two apart...

EU decision blocks Supermac's euro-expansion amid protests from McDonald's

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Pat McDonagh, owner of the Galway-based fast food chain says he is taking legal advice having lost his two-year trademark battle with global giant McDonald's over the use of “Mac” in the name of its fast food restaurants outside of Ireland.

In a split decision the EU Office for Harmonisation, based in Alicante in Spain, ruled that Supermac's can still use its brand name if it begins trading across the EU, but can’t sell its meat, fish, chicken nuggets or chips products under the name because confusion might arise for English-speaking customers as to whose restaurant they are in. 

Mr McDonagh has described the decision as "contradictory" and "questionable."

"It is difficult to understand why they would allow the brand name but not allow us to sell the food we sell. We are quite surprised," he told the Irish Independent, reacting to the decision.

"We haven't been turned down. Maybe it is a mistake they made. We are not 100% sure. We're delighted that Supermac's is now recognised in Europe. We will be continuing with the battle," he continued.

Down Under

The dispute started two years ago when Supermac's pursued plans to open new franchised stores in Sydney and Perth in Australia where there is a large and young Irish ex-pat population.

A decision from Australian authorities is expected shortly. McDonald's legal challenge was then extended to Europe a year ago.

The US chain was previously involved in a high profile, and long-running legal dispute with a Malaysian restaurant which called itself McCurry - this was billed as a precedent-setting case and McDonald's lost.

The company does have a track record of successes in similar cases - MacJoy in the Philippines, McCoffee in the US and McMunchies in Scotland were all forced to change their names under legal pressure from the US company.