A Chicago teenager suddenly finds herself embroiled in a trademark dispute with McDonald’s Corp. over her use of the name McFest for an annual charity concert featuring high school and college bands. Although the concert, which raises money for the Special Olympics, has been promoted under the McFest name since 2007, and the teen’s surname is McClusky, apparently the corporate giant fears that use of the McFest mark will diminish the power of its own mark. Given that McDonald’s has trademarked as many words beginning with “Mc” as the USPTO has been willing to hand out (e.g., Mc$ave, McButton, McRule, McFree and just plain Mc), it’s really not surprising, but one has to wonder where it will stop. Just out of curiosity I wrote down all the last names starting with Mc that I could think of, and was still going strong after I’d reached 50. Can McDonald’s really prevent everyone with a surname starting with Mc from opening their own McBusinesses?
I am a commercial litigator and intellectual property lawyer in Orange County. Although my practice encompasses a wide variety of business disputes, I have a particular fondness for, and am prone to wax philosophical on, the subjects of copyright and trademark infringement in music, literature, art, and film.