If you have the poor fortune of owning an Irish fast food chain whose name contains Mc or Mac but doesn’t end in Donald’s, doing business in Europe can be very, very hard. That’s the claim made by a restaurant chain from Ireland, pitting itself against the international burger conglomerate in a peculiar spat.
In a submission filed to the European Union’s Intellectual Property Office, the restaurant Supermac’s, a multimillion-dollar chain owned by a man named Pat McDonagh, has asked the office to cancel McDonald’s “Big Mac” trademark in Europe, alleging that the company is participating in “trademark bullying.” Supermac’s had previously tried to expand to other locations in Europe, but its trademark registration application was rejected after McDonald’s voiced its objections.
The company’s more than 200 trademarks in the European Union could be particularly tough on business owners in Ireland and Scotland. The prefix Mac or Mc, when added to a surname, means “son of.” Twelve of the 100 most common surnames in both Ireland and Scotland begin with Mc or a Mac, and presumably, there are plenty of businesses that draw inspiration from their owners’ names.
“McDonald’s has literally registered the McWorld. It is trying to make sure that every word in the English language belongs to them if there is prefix Mc or Mac put in front of it,” McDonagh told the Irish Times.
McDonald’s is fighting back: “McDonald’s defends the values of our brand, including our trademarks, and we will continue with the opposition to protect consumers against confusion and prevent others from taking unfair advantage of our trademarks,” a company spokesman said via email.
What’s emerged from McDonagh’s filing is a list of unusual terms that McDonald’s has trademarked, precluding other businesses from using the term. You know the McRib and the McNugget and the Big Mac. Maybe you even remember McPizza. Aside from McDonald’s current menu items and its slogans, past and present, the terms registered in the European Union seem to fall into three camps.
McDonald’s menu items that have been available outside of the United States:
McBacon, a bacon cheeseburger on the menu in some European countries, including Italy and Malta.
McFeast, a burger with barbecue sauce served in such countries as South Africa.
Greek Mac, a pita burger available in Greece.
McPork, a pork patty that was once available in Japan.
McShaker, seasoned fries that were once available in Denmark.
PitaMac, a Mediterranean sandwich that seems to have once been available in Sweden.
McToast, a ham and cheese sandwich on the menu in Greece.
McVeggie, a veggie burger on the menu in India
McBaguette, which is in France.
McNifica, a burger in Argentina.
McNoodles, a former Asian noodle dish from Austria.
McCountry, a pork burger in Croatia.
Common words that McDonald’s is staking its claim to, via a McTrademark:
McHome, delivery in Europe.
McMission, a sustainability effort in Germany.
McAuto, a rewards program in Spain.
McWallet, an app in Italy.
And, naturally, they’ve also trademarked the word “Mc.”