A trade mark dispute between the US fast food giant McDonald’s and the French burger chain Quick has now shifted to Austria. The dispute is particularly interesting because the French Quick chain was bought by McDonald’s largest competitor, Burger King, in 2016.
McDonald’s has registered two word marks for HAPPY MEAL and one figurative mark above right, as EU trade marks, the first one registered in 2000.
Quick, which is not yet trading in Austria, registered the Q Quick Happy Meal above left at the Austrian Patent Office in 2014.
McDonald’s opposed the trade mark of their competitor claiming that Quick’s trade mark is confusingly similar. However, the Austrian Patent Office saw this differently and found that there is no likelihood of confusion.
McDonald’s appealed to the Higher Regional Court of Vienna arguing that HAPPY MEAL was well-known due to its high popularity. Nevertheless, the case was again decided in favor of the French chain.
The Austrian Patent Office and the Higher Regional Court of Vienna (clearly considering the overall impression) ruled that the graphic design of Quick’s trade mark is dominated by the big Q and Quick, while the term Happy Meal fades into the background in McDonald’s mark. A likelihood of confusion would exist only if there is similarity in the images, the sound or the meaning. Further the words Happy and Meal are far too small in the Applicant’s mark and not as colorful as those of McDonald’s.
The decision of the Higher Regional Court of Vienna is final. However, there is still legal scope since McDonald’s can apply for invalidity of the trade mark or start an action based on its reputation in its mark once Quick launches “Happy Meals” on the Austrian market.