McDonald's Wins E.U. Trademark Dispute

McDonald's (MCD) scored a tasty McVictory before the European Union's second-highest court Tuesday in a trademark dispute with an unwanted copycat.

The case, before the General Court of Luxembourg, stemmed from a trademark registered by a company identified as Future Enterprises, of Singapore.

In 2008 it applied to have the name 'MACCOFFEE' registered as an E.U. trademark for food and beverages. Two years later that application was accepted by the European Union Intellectual Property Office, which is based in Alicante, Spain.

McDonald's then sought to have the trademark declared invalid, on the basis of its own E.U.-registered trademark McDonald's and a dozen others all using 'Mc' or 'Mac' as prefixes -- McFish, McToast, McRib, and so on.

The E.U. Intellectual Property Office agreed and reversed its trademark approval in 2013. Future Enterprises appealed that decision to Luxembourg.

In Tuesday's ruling, judges sided with McDo, as it's often called in French-speaking countries.

"According to the General Court, the repute of McDonald's trademarks make it possible to prevent the registration, for foods or beverages, of trademarks combining the prefix 'Mac' or 'Mc' with the name of a foodstuff or beverage," it said in a statement.

It also said that despite the fact that Future Enterprises was selling different foods from McDonald's using the 'MACCOFFEE' name, "there is nevertheless a certain similarity."

They also noted that the MACCOFFE name is not just used on simple ingredients but on menu items like ice cream, muffins and toasted sandwiches that may be used and offered in the context of fast-food restaurant services provided by McDonald's.

A spokesperson for McDonald's European press office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Future Enterprises now has two months to decide whether to appeal the ruling to the Court of Justice, the E.U.'s highest tribunal, although only on points of law.

McDonald's shares closed up 0.05% in New York last Friday at $120.40. The stock is up 29.19% over a year ago.

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