McDonald's ‐ Patents, trademarks and designs
McDonald's ‐ the most dominant player in the fast food industry ‐ is protected by a bundle of trademarks, a smattering of patents and a sprinkling of designs.
Surprisingly, very little prevents you from competing with McDonald's.
Obviously, steer clear of the Golden Arches and the name "McDonald's".
Also, don't think of using:
- Happy Meal
- Extra Value Meal
- Super Size
- World Famous Fries (unless you actually have world famous fries)
- I'm Lovin' it
or anything including "Mc" / "Mac":
Big Mac; Mac Attack; McWorld; Chicken McGrill; Chicken McNuggets; Egg McMuffin; McChicken; McGrilled Chicken; McNuggets; Sausage McMuffin; McCaffe.
McDonald's patents relate to its:
- methods of preparing / cooking food;
- packaging; and
- equipment used in cooking food.
The patents do not cover specific recipes or food items (e.g. the Big Mac burger).
I love this one, because I can't believe this was actually granted by the US Patent Office:
WO2006068865 "Method for making a sandwich":
- heating bread;
- simultaneously assembling garnish in a container;
- placing the heated bread over the garnish-filled container; and
- inverting the bread and container to deposit the garnish on the bread.
US4433001 "Method for preparing scrambled eggs":
- pouring liquid egg into rings;
- the rings being supported on a heated grill;
- rapidly moving the rings to and fro while maintaining contact between the rings and the grill; and
- repeating such movement until the eggs have congealed into a mass of cooked scrambled egg.
US3397993 "Process for preparing frozen french fry potato segments":
- peeling, trimming and cutting potatoes into elongate segments;
- washing the segments;
- blanching the segments;
- dehydrating the segments in heated circulating air to reduce the segments' weight by about 20%;
- frying the segments in a deep fat bath at 300‐375 degrees F for 15 to 60 seconds;
- freezing the segments to at least 0 degrees F; and
- frying the segments in a deep fat bath at 300‐375 degrees F for 90 to 210 seconds.
US4012808 "Continuous method and apparatus for marinating poultry":
- cutting poultry into pieces;
- introducing the pieces into an elongate continuous conveyor assembly;
- maintaining liquid marinade level and concentration in the conveyor assembly;
- rotating a screw within the conveyor assembly to: (i) convey the pieces through the marinade longitudinally to the conveyor assembly outlet; and (ii) repeatedly lifting and dropping the pieces up and out of and back into the marinade between 40 and 90 times; and
- removing the pieces from the conveyor assembly outlet.
US3423210 "Method for signalling the completion of cooking of a food product in a cooking bath":
- preheating a cooking bath;
- substantially immersing food in the bath;
- sensing the temperature of the bath adjacent the food;
- sensing the temperature of the bath remote from the food;
- automatically signalling a rise in bath temperature adjacent the food before it reaches the bath temperature remote the food; and
- removing the food from the bath in response to the signal.
All McDonald packaging patents have expired. So, don't be surprised if you've seen similar packaging elsewhere.
US4653685 "Dual compartment foamed polystyrene sandwich package" having:
- a base defining two compartments;
- a cover;
- a central stiffening rib separating the two compartments; and
- four cooperating slots and tabs for securing the cover to the base.
US4061241 "Food plate package" having:
- a bottom plate;
- a convex‐oval top cover;
- raised support ribs integrally formed in the cover; and
- vent channels between the support ribs.
US4132344 "Foam sandwich package":
McDonald's has developed various equipment used in food storage, preparation and cooking, and registered patents for: heated food holder, griller (x3), freezer, beverage dispenser (x2), oil filter, container filler, dispenser, bun toaster (x2), waste receptacle, shipping and storage container, frying basket, coffee urn, heated sandwich bin and bun steamer:
McDonald's has registered designs that protect the shape of its: automatic beverage dispenser, packaging (x3), salad bar (x2) and high chair:
Note: Many of McDonald's patents and designs have expired.