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; and 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":
- Heat bread
- Simultaneously assemble garnish in a container
- Place the heated bread over the garnish-filled container
- Invert the bread and container to deposit the garnish on the bread
US4433001 "Method for preparing scrambled eggs":
- Pour liquid egg into rings supported on a heated grill
- Rapidly move the rings to and fro while maintaining contact between the rings and the grill
- Repeat the movement until the eggs have congealed into a mass of cooked scrambled egg
US3397993 "Process for preparing frozen french fry potato segments":
- Peel, trim and cut potatoes into elongate segments
- Wash the segments
- Blanche the segments
- Dehydrate the segments in heated circulating air to reduce the segments' weight by about 20%
- Fry the segments in a deep fat bath at 300‐375F for 15 to 60 seconds
- Freeze the segments to at least 0F
- Fry the segments in a deep fat bath at 300‐375F for 90 to 210 seconds
US4012808 "Continuous method and apparatus for marinating poultry":
- Cut poultry into pieces
- Introduce the pieces into an elongate continuous conveyor assembly
- Maintain liquid marinade level and concentration in the conveyor assembly
- Rotate a screw within the conveyor assembly to: (i) convey the pieces through the marinade longitudinally to the conveyor assembly outlet; and (ii) repeatedly lift and drop the pieces up and out of and back into the marinade between 40 and 90 times
- Remove the pieces from the conveyor assembly outlet
US3423210 "Method for signalling the completion of cooking of a food product in a cooking bath":
- Preheat a cooking bath
- Substantially immerse food in the bath
- Sense the temperature of the bath adjacent the food
- Sense the temperature of the bath remote from the food
- Automatically signal a rise in bath temperature adjacent the food before it reaches the bath temperature remote the food
- Remove 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.