You would've expected McDonald's, KFC and Pizza Hut to have left little room for copying. Not quite. Their investment in patents has been erratic ‐ patenting menu items you never knew existed; and leaving their showstoppers unprotected. Yes, you may: sell a "Bucket" of "Rounders" and "Streetwise" chicken; add a bread slice between hamburger patties; and bake a thick‐crust pizza.
As expected, McDonald's has trademark registered:
Mc / Mac; Happy Meal; Super Size; and I'm lovin' it
Bet you expect them to have protected their:
Nope, none of the above.
How about their wonderfully crispy, rigid, flavoursome, salt‐bombed French fries? Yes, that's patented. The good news is that McDonald's French fries are actually made of potato slices. And their secret patented cooking method?
"Dehydrate, fry, freeze and re‐fry the potato slices."
If you find yourself craving an Egg McMuffin for breakfast, here's why: it's the egg; not a run‐of‐the‐mill scrambled egg; an egg made using McDonald's patented cooking method:
"Pour eggs in a ring and agitate the ring along a hot grill"
Personally, I don't know anyone who goes to McDonald's for a Sandwich. This menu item is likely aimed at the lost foreigner who'll be rewarded with a surprise equal to sursadir hrutspungar in his native Iceland ‐ a McDonald's sandwich garnished using this patent pending method:
"Drop garnish from an inverted container onto heated bread"
KFC doesn't need to rely on its not‐so‐secret 12 herbs and spices ‐ the genie left the bottle years ago, and you may copy it. In most countries, you may also use "Bucket", "Rounder" and "Streetwise", but steer clear of "KFC" "Twister", "Zinger" and "Finger lickin' good".
Unlike McDonald's, KFC focussed on patenting its core product ‐ deep fried chicken. And, KFC had a secret, a secret that really made its chicken more tender and juicy than any other deep fried chicken. You see, whereas chicken had previously been deep fried, frying caused the moisture within the chicken to evaporate, serving up something crunchy, yet dry and tough. KFC's secret was to deep fry the chicken under pressure (twice that of atmospheric pressure) to prevent the moisture from boiling out of the chicken. The chicken cooked; the batter crisped; but the chicken remained plump, juicy and tender.
Pizza Hut patented their competitive edge ‐ being able to serve pizzas quickly. Unlike most pizzas, Pizza Hut pizzas are not really made to order. Neither do they hold a large stock of pre‐prepared pizzas. Instead, Pizza Hut stocks: prep‐prepared bases with a central recess; and a separate selection of pre‐prepared topping disks. When you order a Pepperoni pizza, the pepperoni topping disk is popped onto the base and heated. That's why Pizza Hut pizzas have such a thick crust around the edge. In a deviously clever (and successful) attempt to explain this, Pizza Hut misleadingly refers to their pizzas as "Deep Pan" pizzas. Go ahead: ask to see their "pan".
Read more about McDonald's and KFC's patents, trademarks and designs.
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