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EU Intellectual Property Office strips McDonald’s of ‘Big Mac’ trademark after battle with small Irish rival

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‘Big Mac’ trademark

The EU’s Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) has stripped McDonald’s of its Big Mac trademark across Europe after the fact food giant lost a legal battle with a tiny rival chain in Ireland.

After a “David and Goliath” legal battle over the trademarking of the terms “Big Mac” and “Mc”, the EUIPO ruled in favour of Galway-based Supermac, telling McDonald’s that it had failed to prove “genuine use” of the terms in relation to a burger or restaurant.

The ruling means that other companies can use the terms, which McDonald’s trademarked in 1996.

Legal documents show the case was brought before the EUIPO in 2017 after McDonald’s objected to its smaller rival planning to expand into Britain and Europe.

Although Supermac does not and has never sold a product named “Big Mac”, McDonald’s argued that the company’s name sounded too similar to its most-famous burger, which it claimed would give the Irish firm an unfair advantage.

Supermac urged the EUIPO to revoke McDonald’s ownership of the “Mc” and “Big Mac” trademarks, accusing its much-larger competitor of “trademark bullying” and arguing that it registered protected names without using them in a bid to stifle competition.

The Irish firm noted that McDonald’s had trademarked the name of one of its most popular products, the SnackBox, even though the American company has never sold a product with that name.

EU rules stipulate that if a trademark has not been used for five years, the owner loses protection for it.

Dismissing McDonald’s claim, the EUIPO said in its ruling: “It follows from the above that the [trademark] proprietor has not proven genuine use of the contested [trademark] for any of the goods and services for which it is registered.

“As a result, the application for revocation is wholly successful and the contested [trademark] must be revoked in its entirety.”

Speaking with the Irish Independent after the ruling was handed down, Supermac founder and Manging Director Pat McDonagh said: “It’s been a long road, nearly four years, but it was worth it to help protect businesses that are trying to compete against faceless multinationals.

“It doesn’t matter how big or how small you are, it’s great that you can get a hearing from the European office. I’m delighted with the result; I was hopeful for a positive outcome – but not to the extent to which we won.”

McDonald’s, which has yet to comment on the court’s ruling, can now appeal the decision.

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Audacious ‘Fast & Furious-style’ truck cargo theft gang smashed by French and Romanian police

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‘Fast & Furious-style’ truck cargo theft gang

A Europol-backed operation has resulted in the dismantling of a 100-member organised crime network that is believed to have been behind scores of truck cargo thefts across Europe.

The EU’s law enforcement agency said the gang’s methods were similar to those seen in the popular Hollywood Fast & Furious film franchise, and that its members had been linked to more than 150 cargo heist crimes that are estimated to have resulted in damage worth over €10 million ($11.2 million).

As part of an international operation codenamed Arrow, 37 members of the gang were arrested in Romania by officers from the Romanian National Police (Poliția Română) and the French National Gendarmerie (Gendarmerie Nationale) yesterday.

These arrests, which took place during raids on 73 properties on Monday, came after other members of the gang were held in numerous European countries over the course of the past months.

Earlier this year, police in France arrested 10 suspected members of the gang as part of Operation Arrow, while a further 10 were held in Spain, six in the Netherlands, and an additional five in Sweden.

Members of the gang, which originated from Romania, are said to have targeted goods vehicles by driving a car in front of them in order to make them slow down while using other vehicles to hold up other nearby traffic.

Meanwhile, gang members in other vehicles would drive up to the back of the trucks they targeted before climbing out of sunroofs, opening the back of their victims’ trailers, and stealing whatever was inside.

The items the gang stole would then either be loaded into the vehicles in which they were travelling or tossed to the side of the road so as they could be picked up by thieves following in cars behind.

Oftentimes, the drivers of the vehicles the gang targeted and other road users are said to have been oblivious to thefts.

Between the years of 2016 and 2017, members of the gang were thought to have been behind the theft of goods from nine moving trucks on motorways in Romania, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands.

In a statement on its website, Europol said: “Involved from the very onset of the investigation in December 2016, Europol brought together the different police forces involved to help them connect the dots between their own national investigations and provided analytical support before and during the action days.”

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Italian police target dishonest traders exploiting public fear of the coronavirus

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exploiting public fear of the coronavirus

Police in Italy are conducting a crackdown on crooked traders looking to exploit fears over the coronavirus outbreak as the number deaths related to the disease in the country continues to rise.

The Guardia di Finanza law enforcement agency has arrested dozens of fraudsters for preying on worried members of the public by ramping up the price of basic personal hygiene products and falsely making claims that the items they sell can either protect against the disease or cure people who have already contracted it.

Italian investigators said traders and businesses with no experience in healthcare are currently being probed for fraudulently selling such products, including hardware stores, detergent dealers, auto parts sellers, direct growers and cattle breeders.

Products including ambient ionisers, masks, overalls, protective gloves, sanitising products, glasses, sanitary covers and food supplements are being misleadingly advertised to Italian consumers as items that can either protect against or cure the coronavirus, Guardia di Finanza said.

The force said the worst offenders could be jailed for two years if convicted of fraud.

Italy yesterday said it would shut every school and university in the country to stop the spread of coronavirus, and announced that it may ask for a temporary suspension of EU budget rules as it struggles to contain the disease.

Separately, Le360 reported earlier this week that police in Morocco had arrested a British lorry driver who was attempting to smuggle 100,000 medical face masks worth an estimated $3.3 million out of the country in a bid to exploit coronavirus fears in the UK.

The trucker, who was arrested in the Port of Tanger Med east of the city of Tangier, is said to have been planning to exploit a shortage of face masks in Britain by selling those he was transporting for $33 each.

Amazon said this week that it had removed one million items from its website for price gouging over coronavirus fears.

The online retail giant said items such as hand sanitiser and face masks were being traded on its platform at mark-ups of up to 2,000%.

In a statement, the company said: “There is no place for price-gouging on Amazon.

“We are disappointed that bad actors are attempting to artificially raise prices on basic need products during a global health crisis and, in line with our longstanding policy, have recently blocked or removed tens of thousands of offers.

“We continue to actively monitor our store and remove offers that violate our policies.”

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UK pay-TV pirate must pay back £520,000 after selling illicit streaming boxes that provided free access to Premier League football games

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UK pay-tv pirate must pay back £520,000

A British pay-TV pirate has been ordered to hand over £520,000 ($653,000) after being found guilty of selling hundreds of illegal streaming devices that provided free access to Premier League football content.

John Dodds, who was jailed alongside accomplice Jason Richards for four and a half years in April 2018 for selling the Kodi-style boxes to hundreds of pubs and clubs in north-east of England, was told at Newcastle Crown Court on Thursday that he must pay back £521,000 within three months or face an additional five years behind bars.

Describing Dodds as an unreliable and dishonest character, a judge made the order after ruling he had concealed proceeds of his criminal activities by hiding large amounts of cash in his house and placing property assets in his daughter’s name.

As well as selling devices that provided illegal access to Premiership content, prosecutors said that Dodds and Richards regularly left their customers with faulty streaming devices that did not work.

In total, it is estimated that the pair made at least £1.5 million from the sale of the illegal streaming boxes and other television equipment.

During their criminal trial in 2018, Newcastle Crown Court was told that Dodds, who had a previous conviction for threatening a worker at satellite television broadcaster Sky, attempted to prevent evidence being discovered by hiding the keys to a car full of equipment and documentation, including a list of all his clients, several streets away from his home.

The men were initially arrested following an investigation instigated by the Premier League that was carried out in partnership with FACT, a UK intellectual property protection organisation.

Speaking after Dodds was told he must pay the money back, Premier League Director of Legal Services Kevin Plumb commented: “This is a welcome judgment and we are pleased the courts have recognised how serious an issue illegal streaming is – it is a crime which has very significant consequences.

“The defendant has now been ordered to forfeit the proceeds of his criminal activities, which we have requested go directly back to the public purse.

“The money recovered will go towards funding the courts and law enforcement agencies to help continue the brilliant work they do in helping bring people like this to justice.”

In March of Last year, three men were sentenced to a total of 17 years by a UK court after being convicted of running a pirate streaming service that offered illegal access to live Premier League football matches.

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