I’m still dumbfounded by this story. I think about it every day and it’s been over a week. How, in seven shades of hell, did McDonald’s lose the trademark to the Big Mac (exTM) across Europe? It goes beyond beggaring belief; this story has set fire to all belief’s past, current and future earnings in perpetuity and left belief huddled under a flyover with all its worldly belongings in a bin-scavenged HMV shopping bag.
As it turns out, McDonald’s failed to prove that it had sold a single Big Mac in Europe in the last five years. In a McBully-esque attempt to prevent Irish chain Supermac from expanding into European markets (an attempt revealed to be foolish not just to those blessed with the benefit of hindsight, but also, given the global reputational boost gifted to it’s “competitor”, to many of those equipped with a smidgeon of foresight), McDonald’s appears to have been ill-prepared in its submission of supplementary documentation to back up its executives’ affidavits that, yes, at least one single product has been sold under the trade name ‘Big Mac’ in a golden arches store somewhere, anywhere, in the entire continent of Europe in the past half decade. It was this slackness, perceived as arrogance, which the court has punished.
So right now the burger van outside your local student night is legally selling Big Macs, while McDonald’s C-suite roots around the back of their sofas for a crumpled up receipt that bears the legend of its world famous top selling product over the past…forever. No doubt their suitably chastened legal team will rectify this situation with alacrity (once they’ve come back off litter picking duty). But…it’s been over a week? Where are we with this one?
By: Stuart Anderson, Strategy Director. Further reading: Forbes: How McDonald’s lost its ‘Big Mac’ in Europe; Slate: You Say You Sell “Le Big Mac,” but Why Should We Believe You?; You Say You Sell “Le Big Mac,” but Why Should We Believe You?