A merchant selling smokable hemp flowers, CBD gummies and various psychoactive compounds has filed to trademark its name, “McHemp”—but legal experts say approval is a McLongshot.
That’s because McDonald’s Corp. has moved to oppose its application, arguing the North Carolina shop is tarnishing its brand by trading off its famous “Mc” mark.
That McDonald’s is moving to protect its intellectual property is nothing new, said three trademark attorneys interviewed by Ad Age, noting the burger giant routinely challenges trademark applications that could introduce consumer confusion with the brand and its family of registered “Mc” trademarks such as McCafe, McDelivery and McChicken.
The McHemp case is slightly more unusual, they said, because McDonald’s isn’t arguing that consumers would think McHemp is associated with McDonald’s, but that they would know it is obviously not: McHemp’s use of the “Mc” prefix in its name to promote products McDonald’s does not sell amounts to a joke at the Golden Arches’ expense.
“They’re saying, ‘If we let you trade off of our famous mark, you’re going to be blurring our brand and tarnishing our brand because you’re associated with something that we don’t want to be associated with—even if people know McHemp isn’t originating from McDonalds,” explained Daliah Saper, a trademark attorney at Saper Law.