Supermac’s goes back to school yard in fight with McDonald’s over name

By Gordon Deegan

Supermac’s has claimed that the true motivation behind the McDonald’s opposition to it operating across Europe is to prevent it from becoming a substantial competitor.

That is according to the Galway-based fast-food owner Pat McDonagh who has told the EU Intellectual Property Office (Euipo) that “given the success of Supermac’s in Ireland and the UK, success on continental Europe would be highly achievable”.

And Mr McDonagh has gone back to his old school to elicit support over the right to the firm’s name.

Supermac’s claims that McDonald’s is opposing its expansion are contained in a 51-page submission by Supermac’s to Euipo. It marks the latest round of hostilities between the two firms.

Supermac’s owner Pat Mr McDonagh said he was “very optimistic” that the application would be successful.

“There is absolutely no likelihood of confusion now or in the future between the two brands,” he said.

Supermac’s has told the Euipo its business “is iconic in Ireland and beloved of Irish people, many of whom now live abroad, including across Europe”. The firm said expanding into continental Europe “arises from a real commercial imperative”.

It claims it “is in response to the growing demand by the emigrant Irish diaspora for access to products and services familiar to them at home in Ireland. Supermac’s expansion into the wider European market would cater to this demand”.

In the David and Goliath battle, Supermac’s has been trying to open outlets on the continent since 2014. An earlier application involving its name was turned down in 2016 by Euipo after an objection by McDonald’s. This time Supermac’s has left nothing to chance.

Its lengthy submission claims that as a keen schoolboy footballer in the 1960s at the Carmelite College in Moate, Co Westmeath, Mr McDonagh was known as ‘Supermac’, a pun on his surname and the comic book character Superman.

The Supermac’s submission includes a letter from the former Moate College president, Jimmy Murray, saying Mr McDonagh “became known as ‘Supermac’ because of his unique role as a member of the college football team”.

Supermac’s claims the name has no link to McDonald’s and is “entirely independent of it and certainly without any intention to associate the business with that of McDonald’s”.

It says Supermac’s has operated in the Republic since 1978 and in the North for 11 years, without any complaint from McDonald’s. In some locations the restaurants operate close to each other, it adds.

A decision by Euipo is expected in the next few months.


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