Trademark News & Screw-ups Does McDonald's Sell Big Macs? The EU Isn't So Sure

The socialist EU is notorious for its hatred towards success and big corporations. It played a role in dethroning of Microsoft. It recently fined Google with a record $5 billion fine for daring to pre-install Google Search and Google Chrome browser in its Google Android OS. Now it's going after McDonald's. But could this case be the perfect illustration for what is known as Hanlon's razor? It states, "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity." In other words, is EU evil or asinine? Aside from the apparent idiocy of the decision, what has really happened? McDonald's failed to convince the Cancellation Division of EUIPO that it was using its world-famous BIG MAC trademark in connection with sandwiches, other food items, and services of a restaurant. Leaving aside the procedural issues of why some of the evidence provided by McDonald's was not accepted, leaving aside the common sense behind recognizing the fact that McDonald's does, in fact, sell Big Macs in Europe, leaving aside the pettiness of the legal attack against the symbol of capitalism, American dream, and success in general, is there a trademark issue worth raising? Yes, two. First: was McDonald's right in going after Supermac's? Yes. But they should have done it 41 years ago when Supermac's first opened in 1978, a year after the first McDonald's opened in Ireland. By failing to enforce their rights then, they made this year's nightmare possible. Second: if you run a restaurant and you have a signature dish that your restaurant is famous for, do you trademark it for just the dish itself, for a broader range of food items, or do you also include restaurant services? In other words, when you serve the dish in your restaurant, can it be said that you are using the trademark in connection with restaurant services? Trademarks are registered in connection with specific products and services that are grouped into classes. There are 34 classes of products and 11 classes of services. A textbook explanation of the dichotomy relates to the retail sale of products. Let's take vases for example. You trademark your brand in product class 21 if you make vases that others sell. You trademark your brand in service class 35 for retail sales if you sell vases of others. And you trademark your brand in both product class 21 and service class 35 if you make vases and run a retail store selling them. McDonald's has Big Macs on their menus. Big Macs is one of the main reasons why over 69 million people frequent McDonald's daily. You can't buy a Big Mac anywhere outside a McDonald's. At least before the crazy EU decision you couldn't. So yes, it is perfectly appropriate for McDonald's to have trademarked Big Mac for both the product (sandwich) and the service (restaurants), and yes, serving Big Macs in a restaurant is a proper use of the brand in connection with the services even if you don't call your restaurant Big Mac. McDonald's will appeal the decision and hopefully will succeed. Or is EU trying to win the world competition with North Korea as to which country disrespects intellectual property of American multinational corporations more?

The video below features Andrei Mincov's commentary of this article.

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