Allison Arevalo and Erin Wade were just two days away from opening their dream business, a small restaurant selling macaroni and cheese at the San Francisco Underground Farmers’ Market, when they got word that McDonald’s Corporation didn’t like that the word “Mac” was in the name.
As Arevalo and Wade explained in a letter to the Oakland Local, they had planned to call the eatery “Little Mac”: “Mac, clearly referring to ‘mac and cheese;’ little, referring to the small environmental footprint we aim to achieve.” Their concept was to operate a business that “focuses heavily on local, artisanal products.”
With no burgers in sight, mind you.
The restaurant’s owners had actually sought the advice of an attorney regarding the name “Little Mac” well in advance of the planned opening and were assured there wouldn’t be a legal problem “because no one would walk into Little Mac thinking it was an extension of McDonald’s.” Therefore, the attorney advised, they shouldn’t have any trouble with naming the place Little Mac.
But no one had asked McDonald’s.
According to Arevalo, Wade (a lawyer) called up McDonald’s corporate counsel, who informed the women that any eating establishment with “Mc” or “Mac” in the name could expect a challenge from the fast food giant — whether it had anything to do with the “global brand” or not.
Since Arevalo and Wade wouldn’t have the deep pockets to fight the McDonald’s empire, they decided to change the name via a contest on Arevalo’s blog. The prize for renaming “The Restaurant Formerly Known as Little Mac?”
Well, “lots and lots of free mac and cheese,” of course.
What do you think? Would “Little Mac” be confusing to you as a customer? Would you think the mac and cheese place was affiliated with McDonald’s? Does McDonald’s have a legitimate trademark infringement claim regarding any food establishment with “Mc” or “Mac” in the name?