Theresa May has now triggered Article 50, notifying of the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union, but what impact will that have on trade marks?
The Irish fast food chain, Supermac’s, based in County Galway has managed to successfully revoke McDonald’s “Big Mac” European Trade Mark, after a dispute lasting a number of years.
The dispute started after McDonald’s opposed Supermac’s own EU trade mark. Supermac’s then commenced a revocation action against McDonald’s challenging them to show genuine use of their “Big Mac” trade mark in the European Union between April 2012 and April 2017.
McDonald’s submitted evidence included statements signed by McDonald’s representative which showed sales figures of 1.4 billion Big Macs in the UK, France and Germany and also advertisements and packaging of Big Mac products.
However, the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) found that McDonald’s had not proven genuine use of their Big Mac trade mark registered in 1996 as a burger or a restaurant name. The EUIPO found that McDonald’s evidence was insufficient to prove genuine use and upheld the revocation application made by Supermac’s.
The lessons to learn from this case are that EU and UK trade mark owners should be aware of vulnerability of trade marks to be revoked or cancelled if their marks are not used and if the owner cannot show sufficient evidence of genuine use for those 5 years. It is also important for trade mark owners to maintain good records the extent and use of their marks to be submitted at evidence if these types of dispute arise.
If you think you need advice on trade marks surrounding your business, please contact the Brand Protection Team.