Fast-food rivals McDonald’s and Hungry Jacks have become embroiled in a trademark dispute over hamburgers, setting the stage for a legal battle over which one has the right to call their burgers “big”.
McDonald’s launched Federal Court proceedings against Hungry Jacks late last week, claiming its competitor has ripped off the “Big Mac” and “Mega Mac” with its latest burgers the “Big Jack” and “Mega Jack”.
Documents filed with the court, seen by SmartCompany, reveal McDonald’s is seeking an injunction on Hungry Jacks’ use of the burger names, which it claims are damaging the value of its intellectual property.
McDonald’s also wants the court to cancel two trademarks granted to Hungry Jacks late last year covering each term and order the destruction of all promotional materials related to the burgers.
The fast food giant alleges Hungry Jacks knowingly infringed on its intellectual property in “flagrant or wilful disregard” of its trademarks, which McDonald’s has held since 1973.
Hungry Jacks began advertising its Big Jack and Mega Jack burgers last month and comparison videos that have popped up online draw several striking similarities between the products.
One reviewer, a Youtube creator known as 2 Aussie, bought both burgers and compared them side-by-side, saying the two are “pretty much the same”.
Hungry Jacks filed a trademark application for Big Jack last November, and it was accepted several months later in February without any published opposition.
But McDonald’s claims it had already made Hungry Jacks aware the trademark infringed upon its intellectual property, alleging its competitor moved ahead in “bad faith”.
Hungry Jacks continues to advertise both burgers on its website and through promotions run on social media.
It’s running a remarkably similar tag line to McDonald’s Big Mac ads, saying the burger contains “two flame-grilled 100% Aussie beef patties, topped with melted cheese, special sauce, fresh lettuce, pickles and onions on a toasted sesame seed bun”.
McDonald’s describes the Big Mac thus: “Two 100% pure beef patties and Big Mac sauce sandwiched between a sesame seed bun. It’s topped off with pickles, crisp shredded lettuce, finely chopped onion and American cheese.”
A Hungry Jacks spokesperson said the company had not been served with formal documents.
“Hungry Jack’s has not been served any formal documents from the court and, thus, is unable to provide any comment at this stage,” the spokesperson said.
It’s far from the first time McDonald’s has sued over a trademark dispute. Earlier this year, independent burger chain Burger Urge drew the multinational’s ire over its “Big Pac” burger.
That battle ended with Burger Urge removing the product from its menu and deleting promotional materials.