McDonald's suffered a setback in a three-year trademark battle as the Australian federal court dismissed their allegations against rival fast-food chain, Hungry Jack's. The lawsuit claimed that Hungry Jack's infringed on McDonald's Big Mac trademark by selling "Big Jack" and "Mega Jack" burgers.
However, the court found that neither burger brand was deceptively similar to the Big Mac, leading to the dismissal of the trademark infringement claims, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
No Confusion for Consumers Over 'Big Jack' Burgers
The Guardian reported that during the trial, Hungry Jack's chief marketing officer, Scott Baird, acknowledged the "element of cheekiness" in the choice of the burger name. He stated that the brands were not selected due to their similarity to McDonald's burgers but rather to compete with their rival in a playful manner.
Such tactics are common in overseas markets where these fast-food chains go head-to-head.
Justice Stephen Burley, presiding over the case, found no evidence to suggest that consumers would be confused about which restaurant sold the Big Jack or Big Mac. McDonald's failed to provide any compelling evidence of deception or confusion caused by Hungry Jack's branding.
While ruling in favor of Hungry Jack's, Justice Burley acknowledged the echoes of the Big Mac brand in the names Big Jack and Mega Jack. However, he concluded that these names were "recognizably different" from their McDonald's counterparts, allowing Hungry Jack's the opportunity to compete with their own unique identity.
Breach of Consumer Law
While McDonald's did not succeed in proving trademark infringement, they did manage to secure a victory on a separate consumer law claim. The court ruled that Hungry Jack's had misled consumers by falsely advertising that their Big Jack burger contained "25% more Aussie beef" than the Big Mac.
Experts tested and weighed the burger patties, revealing that Hungry Jack's burgers contained significantly less beef than advertised. This ruling highlights the importance of accurate product representation and honest advertising practices.
Hungry Jack's had also filed a separate bid to remove McDonald's "Mega Mac" mark from the register of trademarks. However, the court dismissed this request, indicating that the matter will proceed to a liability hearing. If found liable, Hungry Jack's may face financial penalties for their misleading marketing campaign.
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