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U.S. fast-food giant McDonald’s on Tuesday won a landmark ruling from the Philippine Supreme Court in its 16-year battle to protect its “Big Mac” trademark from local infringement. The court reversed a 1994 ruling that gave a local food company the right to sell “Big Mak” sandwiches, saying it violated the McDonald’s trademark. McDonald’s and its Philippine franchisee, McGeorge Food Industries, had fought the “Big Mak” label since 1990, when a lower court upheld their rights and ordered L.C. Big Mak Burger Inc. to stop using the label and pay damages to the U.S. company dating back to 1988, when it sought to register with the Philippine patent and trademark office. But Big Mak won on appeal in 1994, when a higher court ordered McDonald’s to pay the local company 1.9 million pesos (US$34,000; euro 28,000) in damages. McDonald’s then took the case to the Supreme Court. The tribunal said that by calling its hamburger sandwiches “Big Mak,” the local food company saved a lot in advertising to promote its product. It also ruled that L.C. Big Mak was liable for unfair competition since the packaging of its products “clearly shows respondents’ intent to deceive the public.” The decision is viewed as a landmark in efforts to fight intellectual property rights violations. For the past three years, the Philippines has been on a U.S. watch list of countries where intellectual property rights are deemed inadequate. Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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