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In a legal contest that media outlets all over can't avoid comparing to David and Goliath, an Irish fast-food company this week prevailed upon the European Union Intellectual Property Office to cancel McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) trademark on its iconic Big Mac. The result means Supermac's will be able to expand across the continent. It had previously been blocked from doing so by the larger chain's assertion that the similarity of names would confuse customers.
In this segment from MarketFoolery, host Mac Greer and senior analysts Emily Flippen and Jason Moser reflect on how it happened, and where matters will go from here in the world of burgers and brands.
A full transcript follows the video.
This video was recorded on Jan. 16, 2019.
Mac Greer: Let's move overseas for this last story. This is, I think, my favorite story. An EU judge has ruled against McDonald's in the battle of the Macs. McDonald's had been engaged in a trademark battle over the Big Mac with the Irish-based fast-food chain Supermac's. Now, because of this judge's decision, Supermac's will be allowed to expand throughout the U.K. and Europe. More importantly, it means McDonald's no longer has the right to their Big Mac trademark. Supermac's managing director hailed the decision as "the end of the McBully."
Emily Flippen: [laughs] This is not a nothing nugget. This is a big deal for McDonald's. Now, anyone can start selling Big Macs all across the EU. I think my favorite quote from the proceedings was from the EU Intellectual Property Office. I quote, they said, "McDonald's was not putting the Big Mac trademark to genuine use." [laughs] My challenge to McDonalds now is to start selling Super Mac burgers across the EU. Stick it to the man in that regard.
Greer: I like that.
Flippen: I think it's a missed opportunity if they don't.
Jason Moser: I mean, who do you think wins that case, though?
Flippen: Oh, McDonald's, 100%.
Moser: More than likely.
Greer: That's amazing! It's amazing they would say it's not genuine use. Now, having said that, I'm a McDonald's shareholder. Why are they wasting time with lawsuits like this? Supermac's was started by a guy who says that the name came from a nickname that he was given. Why is McDonald's worried about that? What are they doing?
Moser: What's more valuable for McDonald's -- is it the actual food or the way they've branded it? I think that McDonald's right now is more a brand than anything else. I mean, the food is totally replicable for the most part.
Greer: But does anyone confuse Supermac's for McDonald's?
Moser: No, I don't think they are. But I think that when you have a business that values its branding, as McDonald's does, and they've built that stuff through the years, they're going to try to set every example they can.
Greer: It's a waste of money.
Moser: It seems like it.
Greer: Improve your food and just keep your eye on the ball.
Moser: Every time Mac hosts MarketFoolery from here on out, we have to introduce him as Supermac.
Greer: They may sue me. McDonald's may come after me for my name. It's this arrogance.
Moser: I'd like to see them get past us.
Greer: Just try it.
Moser: We've got your back.