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

Tom Belger
·Finance and policy reporter
People gather outside a McDonald's restaurant in London, Sunday, Sept. 4, 2011.  About 1,200 McDonald's restaurants in Britain will begin displaying the calorie count of each food and drink item on their wall-mounted menu boards this week, as part of a government-led program to fight obesity and promote healthier eating, the chain said Sunday. McDonald's already puts calorie information on its Web site and the back of its tray liners, but this is the first time the figures will be displayed prominently in its restaurants outside the U.S. The chain has similar calorie menu boards in New York City, which became the first in the U.S. to put a calorie posting law in place in 2008.The British program is voluntary, and relies on partnering companies to fulfill their health pledges. Other chains that have signed up to the British Department of Health calorie display program include Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut and Starbucks. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
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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