How will McDonald’s entry into the metaverse impact food and drink trade mark filings?

McDonald's is expanding its trade mark coverage for its McDonald's, McCafe and M logo trade marks to include protection for virtual goods, such as food and drink, and the provision of virtual restaurants and retail outlets in the metaverse, with applications in at least the USA and the European Union.

In the metaverse, users' avatars will be able to visit a virtual restaurant or retail store and order goods for real-world delivery.

Whether McDonald's latest filings will encourage other service providers to follow suit is yet to be seen, considering that, say, usual service coverage for the provision of food and drink in class 43 ought to naturally protect the method of delivery of those goods whether that be in person or online. For example, protection for restaurant and catering services may simply be broad enough to cover the virtual and real-world provision of those services. Similarly, online retail services ought to be broad enough to cover the provision of those services via the internet and in the metaverse.

Of most interest will be whether filings for ‘virtual goods’ will increase off the back of McDonald’s latest applications as businesses stake their claim in the metaverse. It will be worth monitoring how some other big players and filers react, such as, the likes of Amazon and Apple.

It will also be interesting to see how the Intellectual Property Offices view the coverage for which protection is sought and whether it is acceptable for the purposes of registration, particularly in relation to the specificity of ‘virtual goods’ and their retail in Classes 9 and 35.