You couldn’t blame Lauren McClusky of Chicago if she were a bit squeamish about using her last name in this story without fear of reprisal from Ronald McDonald and his legal posse.
For McClusky, 19, finds herself at the center of a thorny dispute that involves a series of charity concerts she’s put on over the past three years. She dubbed the event “McFest” (more on that in a moment) — but McDonald’s sees that as an infringement on its trademarks, something the McDonaldland lawyers refer to as “the McFamily of brands.”
These include (deep breath): McPen, McBurger, McBuddy, McWatch, McDouble, McJobs, McShirt, McPool, McProduct, McShades, McFree, McRuler, McLight — and even the prefix “Mc” itself.
“But not McFest,” pointed out McClusky, who declined to change her last name for this story. “The whole reason I called it McFest in the first place is my name.”
Her original co-chair for the first McFest also shared the “Mc” prefix in her surname, so it seemed a natural. And indeed, not a single McDonald’s attorney seemed to object in 2007 and 2008, when McClusky’s McFests raised $30,000 for the Chicago chapter of Special Olympics.
But when McClusky applied to have the McFest name protected, McDonald’s filed an opposition. So instead of donating funds from her 2009 concert to Special Olympics, McClusky’s had to hire lawyers to answer a series of administrative proceedings McDonald’s filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. To date, it’s cost her roughly $5,000 — money she wishes had gone to Special Olympics kids instead of attorneys. …
McMakes me consider changing the names of my IP courses to McTrademark Law, McPatent Law, McCopyright Law and McIP McSurvey.