The value of a Trade Mark

February 28, 2020, By

You may have seen that McDonalds have now launched their Big Mac® sauce as a separate condiment, which I hope that I am not alone in the pure feeling of joy this brings. But this is also a great example to show the commercial value of the Big Mac® trade mark.

Before we get to the numbers, let us first deconstruct the Big Mac ®. It is made up as follows:

  1. Bottom bun;
  2. Big Mac® sauce;
  3. Lettuce;
  4. Cheese
  5. Hamburger;
  6. Middle layer of bun;
  7. Big Mac® sauce;
  8. Lettuce
  9. Gherkin
  10. Hamburger; and
  11. Top bun.

This burger is sold in the UK (based on the price at our local McDonalds in Angel) at £3.49.

With the arrival of the Big Mac ® sauce being sold separately, those savvy savers among us may have worked out that you now can construct your own imitation Big Mac ® using items available on the “saver menu”. You will need:

  1. One hamburger (add extra lettuce);
  2. One cheeseburger (add extra lettuce); and
  3. One Big Mac® sauce.

With the above items you are able to construct your own version of the Big Mac® (with a spare bun lid and minus the sesame seeds on the top bun) for a mere £2.38. The price difference is a whopping £1.11!

But what is missing from this imitation? It’s not a Big Mac ®.

The Big Mac ® is a registered trade mark and is the name of burger that you can purchase in any McDonalds. The knock-off is simply a burger.  That £1.11 extra gets you the real deal and the fact that McDonalds have a registered trade mark for the Big Mac ®. This means that they have a monopoly over the name and no other burger can be called a Big Mac®.

It is a common misconception that the most important aspect of a business is the product and that consumers attribute value to the physical product itself. However, the mere price of the products alone does not give a full account of the overall value of the product. Almost a third of the value of the Big Mac® is to do with the goodwill associated with the name of this product. By not adequately protecting your brand and products, you could be missing out on being able to commercialise this goodwill. You also open yourself up to the risk that others will infringe your product and brand names, and you will have a harder time stopping them without registered trade marks.

You will see that the proof is in the pudding – even though the Big Mac® sauce is currently available on their menu and allows you to create an imitation, it is highly likely that hundreds of individuals will still go and purchase their beloved Big Mac®.

Whether the Big Mac® sauce is here to stay or not, what is clear is if you have a unique product you should consider protecting its name with a trade mark. Who knows, maybe one day in the future one hungry solicitor may be writing a blog post about your product.

It is also worth noting that McDonalds are one of the most successful franchises in the world. If you would like further information on franchising, please see our previous blog here.

Briffa are experts in all aspects of trade mark law and practice, and can assist you whether you are starting your trade mark portfolio, expanding and managing your trade marks or enforcing your rights. Please contact us for a free consultation with one of our specialist lawyers on 020 7288 6003 or at [email protected] and we can help you protect your brand.

The imitation burger

Written by Ceyda Sam, Solicitor

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