How Much IP (Intellectual Property) is There in Your Burger?
Filing patents for food procedures, equipment and appliances is a norm in the food industry. Many big brands like Wendy’s, Mc Donald’s, Burger King and Sonic Drive-In have a strong hold in the world of patents. These giants are proof that a strong patent portfolio will attract more investors, franchisees and stakeholders. Apart from this, if there is patent protection to one or many of a brand’s products then the brands has more credibility and eventually a strong market value.
The phrase “intellectual property” refers to the ideas, thoughts, artistic creations, or arrangements generated by a certain individual or entity. Patented inventions, copyrighted works, and trademarked designs are all examples of intellectual property that play a crucial role in monetizing intangible assets. While intellectual property is in almost everything we have developed and put to use, it is particularly interesting to see how much it is present in small things — like a Burger!
Imagine a scenario where you enter a burger café and sit down to go through the menu. What are the things around you that have some form of intellectual property imbibed in them?
Have you ever wondered about it?
It begins right from the menu card you are holding that might be protected under copyright. The logo on the menu card might be trademarked to preserve and protect the brand’s identity. The design of the burger that you might order could be patented. The process and machinery used to make that burger might be protected under a patent.
Let us try to understand what that favorite burger of yours is worth!
Trademarks in Burger
A trademark can exist in a number of forms and is something that helps promote a specific business identity.
Let us look at McDonald’s whose famous “Golden Arches” and the name “McDonald’s” are the most important trademarks that belong to it. Because the symbol is a trademarked design, other companies cannot use the same one or one that looks similar enough to be potentially mistaken for the original.
Some other notable trademarks held by McDonald’s are:
- Happy Meal
- Extra Value Meal
- I’m Lovin’ it
Anything that includes “Mc” / “Mac” like Big Mac; Mac Attack; McWorld; Chicken McGrill; Chicken McNuggets; Egg McMuffin; McChicken; McGrilled Chicken; McNuggets; Sausage McMuffin; and McCaffe also come under the trademark umbrella of McDonald’s. Also, it is interesting to note that McDonald’s is well-known for aggressively enforcing its intellectual property rights. Further, McDonald’s has been involved in a number of lawsuits and other legal cases over the course of its 70-year history.
Copyrights in Burger
Copyright protection is for securing creative expression. This protection is generally sought for written literary works, sound recordings, video content, graphic designs, photographs, etc.
Pamphlets, menu cards, adverts, videos and other literary works that a given brand might have created are eligible to be protected under copyright. Suppose you are browsing through a menu card from your favourite burger giant — The burger King, then the representation on the pamphlet or the display board might be copyrighted.
Patents in Burger
Filing patents for food procedures, equipment and appliances is a norm in the food industry. Many big brands like Wendy’s, McDonald’s, Burger King and Sonic Drive-In have a strong hold in the world of patents. These giants are proof that a strong patent portfolio will attract more investors, franchisees and stakeholders. Apart from this, if there is patent protection to one or many of a brand’s products then the brands has more credibility and eventually a strong market value.
Firmenich, Nestle, and Impossible Foods target a wide audience, have competitive prices, and spend a lot of their budget on developing strategies for product marketing. These pointers are responsible for their strong position in the market. It is also interesting to know that many giants are moving towards including plant based items in their menu which have taken their popularity to another level.
The food patents have been in question recently, this has led to a decline in the number of patents gradually. There have been litigation matters between some of the giants which have led the companies to function in a different aspect rather than relying just on filing patents. Litigation further involves a lot of monetary input which again drains the brand of it budget and sometimes brings a bad name to it. Also, the norms regarding patents related to non obviousness have become stricter making the brands conscious of their IP matters and filings.
The US and Europe are the largest market places in the world that have a foot fall of people who love fast food. Fast food at large encompasses patties, wraps, burgers and rolls. People love burgers because of the variety, ease of eating and transporting it and of course the price. Children find burgers really fascinating given the exciting colours and irresistible flavours that they come in.
Trade secret in Burger
Any information like a recipe of product, customer list, manufacturing process or any other information that is trivial to a given brand, is kept under wraps. This is the trade secret of the brand. The information under the trade secret is kept so because the organization does not want its competitors to follow the similar line of thought and get the desired outcome. The brands today, protect this important information because the trade secrets are an asset to the brands and provide economic value to them. The protection can last indefinitely as long as the information remains secret.
The term “information” has a broad definition. As a result, “information” can contain client names, contact information, purchasing tendencies, and so on. If the trade secret is leaked, the secret is no longer a trade secret that must be kept private. It is out in the public domain. Once the secret is revealed, it cannot be recovered.
Recent Developments: IP in a Burger
We may infer with certainty from the information above that IP and its protection is essential to building a brand. According to latest news, many food brands have become the latest entrants to the Metaverse after filing various patents to build Metaverse goods and services ranging from digital restaurants, cafes, and others.
We hope you found this interesting!
https://www.gerbenlaw.com/trademarks/food-companies/mcdonalds/ (Link to view all McDonald’s trademarks)