Maier & Maier

Fast Food Empires Put Their Weight Behind Trademarks

Fast food companies have been actively asserting their trademarks, recently highlighted by noteworthy activity by both McDonald’s and In-N-Out.

McDonald’s aggressive defense of its trademarks hit a snag recently as the EUIPO canceled their trademark for “Big Mac” for failing to provide sufficient evidence of use. In their argument, McDonald’s relied mainly on affidavits from employees, Wikipedia entries, and screenshots of posters and websites. In their ruling, the EUIPO pointed out that neither affidavits from employees nor Wikipedia entries are viewed as reliable evidence due to their biases and unreliability respectively. For screenshots, the EUIPO took issue with the limited geographic scope (only the UK, France, and Germany were represented) and the failure to show a way to purchase or provide any evidence of a purchase.

The loss came after McDonald’s attempted to assert the trademark against the Irish restaurant chain “Supermac’s” as they attempted to expand out of Ireland and into the EU. With the “Big Mac” trademark now nullified, Supermac’s is free to do so. They are not the only ones who can use the term “Big Mac” now, as its available to anyone within the EU. Burger has notably taken advantage of this, with certain locations replacing item names with variants of “Big Mac”, including “Like a Big Mac, But Actually Big”, “The Burger Big Mac Wished It Was”, and even “Kind of Like a Big Mac But Juicier and Tastier”. McDonald’s is still able to appeal the decision and will likely do so soon.

Meanwhile, In-N-Out filed a trademark infringement claim against Puma for two recently launched shoes. The subject sneakers are named the “Cali-O Drive Thru CC” and “California Drive-Thru”, are white with red and yellow accent and palm trees along the laces, and advertisements showed the shoes walking through hills of burgers. Neither shoe is still available on the Puma website. Unlike similar novelty shoes by Adidas (Game of Thrones) and Nike (NASA) made in respective partnerships, Puma and In-N-Out had made no agreement licensing the trade dress for the shoes.

Category: General