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McDonald’s vs. mac and cheese

AJC Staff

AJC Staff

A pair of San Francisco Bay Area restaurateurs were all set to open their macaroni and cheese specialty restaurant with the name Little Mac when a phone conversation with legal counsel for McDonald’s derailed their plans. It seems the burger giant doesn’t take kindly to restaurants that use “Mac” or “Mc” in their names, citing brand infringement.

Rather than fight, the mac and cheese entrepreneurs, Erin Wade and Alison Arevalo,  have put a call out for help in finding a new name. There’s lots of creamy goodness in your future if you come up with the winning name.

You can read about it on Arevalo’s blog. And also make a suggestion.

(Thanks to Slashfood.)

64 comments Add your comment

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Kar

June 10th, 2010
11:02 am

Weren’t McDonalds once sued by a Scottish Earl who is the hereditary head of the Donald Clan? He was fed up when the corp sued a family owned restaurant who’s surname was, of course, McDonald’s.

Art

June 10th, 2010
11:49 am

I would tell McDonald’s to bite my McAss…

passed

June 10th, 2010
11:59 am

So now they have rights on anything Mc?

Tyrone Biggums

June 10th, 2010
12:06 pm

Yep, they sued Eddie Murphy for putting “McDowells” in “Coming to America”.

mccrap

June 10th, 2010
12:18 pm

this is exactly the kind of stuff that made me stop eating mcdonalds, that and their hamburgers suck,wendys rules anyday in my book

Acworth Man

June 10th, 2010
12:21 pm

Funny, when I read this article, there was an advertistment for McDonald’s breakfast.

Just remember the lawyers have to justify their positions just like the rest of us.

David S

June 10th, 2010
12:26 pm

I worked for them once as a kid and now I have a wonderful button with the golden arches that says McSh*t.

I would go with the Chappell show knock off name “WhackDonalds” After all, Mac and Cheese is like Crack, and we all know from Whitney Houston that “Crack is Whack!”

Tyler Pike

June 10th, 2010
12:30 pm

McDonald’s is ridiculous. They are just a big corporation who has forgotten it should be about the food. The only time I ever go to McDonald’s is when they bring back the McRib. Last time, Daddy and me went and ate 10 each at one sitting. The truck ride home was pretty interesting if you know what I mean.

Pimp Down

June 10th, 2010
12:35 pm

WHAT BOUT MAC Daddy?

Becky

June 10th, 2010
12:49 pm

If your picture is theirs, looks mighty good..

Garfield

June 10th, 2010
12:54 pm

So dose this means that Burger King would sue anyone who uses “burger” in thier name? This is stupid!

Ronald McNugget

June 10th, 2010
12:57 pm

Please don’t anyone tell them about Taco Mac.

Mel

June 10th, 2010
12:59 pm

Does that mean they can sue Apple for calling their computers “Macs”?

wowzers

June 10th, 2010
1:00 pm

McHammer

June 10th, 2010
1:08 pm

McDonalds nvere bothered me……go figure…lol

Whatever

June 10th, 2010
1:15 pm

Mcintosh ? MAC Cosmetics. Did they ever try to sue the late Bernie Mac ? Get real McDonalds. Why don’t you worry about putting cashiers at the counter that know English and can understand my order !

MAYBABY

June 10th, 2010
1:19 pm

Call it RoniFrancicso, RoniFiasco, Mac’n'Chz Delite…let’s be creative! Don’t let MickyD’s discourage you guys.

MAYBABY

June 10th, 2010
1:21 pm

Correction on spelling ‘RoniFrancisco’

1164mgc

June 10th, 2010
1:23 pm

I think it might refer more to their Big Mac burger than to the name McDonalds, but that’s just me.

Rodney

June 10th, 2010
1:25 pm

@Acworth man 12:21pm – AGREED! And it’s not like these ladies have the financial resources to fight McDonalds.

I wish I lived in the Bay Area, I’d hit their place all the time. I think the idea of a mac-n-cheese resto is FANTASTIC.

rave1914

June 10th, 2010
1:32 pm

call it Not McDonalds

macman

June 10th, 2010
1:41 pm

call it MACK DADDY

CW

June 10th, 2010
1:42 pm

yeah, God forbid McDonalds in anyway be mistaken for a restuarant that actually serves FOOD. Not scraps from sick cows and greasy cheep fries

Jessica

June 10th, 2010
1:46 pm

What about Mary Mac’s Tea Room? McDonald’s has an inflated ego, and an inflated sense of how “good” their food is.

What about Cheeseapalooza (mac and cheese friendly!) or The Ultimate Cheese ? (I’m not great where names are concerned :P )

mable

June 10th, 2010
2:09 pm

Crazy notion… but what about Maxine’s??

Sue

June 10th, 2010
2:11 pm

McDonalds have given you great publicity due to their stupidity. How about “Cheese Delight”.
Will call in next time I visit the US.
Good luck Erin and Alison.

Ham Burgular

June 10th, 2010
2:20 pm

Why would McDonalds be upset about their name. Are they thinking about going into the restaurant business?

GregRodgers

June 10th, 2010
2:34 pm

They don’t like restaurants that use Mc or Mac….??

Then what’s up with Taco Mac?

big mack

June 10th, 2010
2:56 pm

how about “not that crappy stuff mcdonalds sells”

Dave in Marietta

June 10th, 2010
2:58 pm

McDonalds can only impose its limits on business of similar backgrounds. For example, it’s clear that a computer called a Mac is not something that you eat. Therefore there is no brand confusion or trademark infringement issues.

coachx

June 10th, 2010
3:14 pm

McDonalds sucks !

This is just another reason not eat there……as if their sorry food was not enough.

Gram

June 10th, 2010
3:14 pm

I don’t eat their food anyway. It has all the flavor of paper. I hope they fight it…and win. McDonald’s can’t have everything Mc/Mac. It sure won’t hurt their “restaurant”…that’s been done by themselves already. Maybe if they served something EDIBLE, it would be different.

Dale in NC

June 10th, 2010
3:16 pm

I agree with the person above except I would I would name it “Knotmick Donells” and dare them to try and sue me:)

noway outthere

June 10th, 2010
3:22 pm

I am in trouble my name begins with Mc!!!!
Cherished Cheese
Splinded Splurges
call it: M&C Eatery I want my money cause these are HOT

John Kessler

June 10th, 2010
3:35 pm

How about Mackin’ Cheese?

Mackin' Cheese?

June 10th, 2010
3:37 pm

How about not?

Barnacle Bill Bavasi

June 10th, 2010
3:51 pm

I agree with one of the folks above. Everyone is assuming this is about Mc or Mac. It seems more obviously about Little Mac and it’s apparent play off Big Mac.

Renarda

June 10th, 2010
3:52 pm

Roni Cheese is a great name or roni pie

McCrackass

June 10th, 2010
4:19 pm

I think McDonalds is full of fat n BS thats y I dnt eatt dey processed stuff now. That makes no sence n my last name is McDaniels so what you gone do SUE ME????? Thats crazy!!!!! Get a life!

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Baltisraul

June 11th, 2010
8:36 am

how about mackin whoopee!!!

SheShe

June 11th, 2010
11:14 am

LOL @ Art….(too funny)

SheShe

June 11th, 2010
11:16 am

Mackie Cheese!

SheShe

June 11th, 2010
11:20 am

Mac A Risco!

Soupy Sales

June 11th, 2010
2:13 pm

Hi. I’m a trademark attorney who is also a chowhound. (So I am very familiar with both the dark side and the light side!) And, just to be clear, McDonald’s is not a client of mine. It’s easy (and fun) to slash and burn McDonald’s over this, but read the issue more carefully (as stated via the link John provides to the SF restaurant). It’s not so one-sided. McDonald’s itself never contacted the owners via demand letter, lawsuit, or anything else. The owners contacted McDonald’s themselves proactively, since one of the “Little Mac” owners is an ex-attorney and knew she might have problems. It seems that several of her own friends/contacts had asked her about any connection between her restaurant and McDonald’s. So she already knew in advance that her restaurant might have possible problems related to customer confusion (i.e., that it was likely that some consumers might be “actually confused” between the two – - which is the strongest type of evidence in a potential trademark suit).

And I agree with 1164mgc and Barnacle Bill: the problem here wasn’t so much with “Mc” or “Mac”, but that “Little Mac” seems like a direct play on “Big Mac.”

The lawyer/restauranteur was actually very smart to recognize this problem in advance and to recommend the name change before “Little Mac” had opened its business. Saves expenses all around and – - they don’t seem like dummies – - the owners have also now reaped a ton of free nationwide attention for their brand new restaurant. So don’t spend too much time feeling sorry for them: they not only seem to be great marketers, they look to have yummy mac-n-cheese!

Soupy Sales

June 11th, 2010
2:13 pm

And apologies for the long post!

Diesel Man

June 12th, 2010
2:25 pm

To answer the second comment above, yes I think a few years back McDonald’s sued a family restaurant named MacDonald or McDonald in Britain. The chief of Clan Donald ( MacDonald and McDonald), whose title is MacDonald of MacDonald, supported the restaurant and said at least in Britain they could name it whatever they damn well pleased.

'lantaNative

June 12th, 2010
3:18 pm

Mackin’ Cheese… GREAT name John Kessler! It has my vote!
This name says what it is and is a play on words like they are “making” cheese into something better.

Gordon

June 12th, 2010
3:35 pm

I would like to name it Macaroni Supreme

McNothing

June 12th, 2010
5:09 pm

I haven’t eaten McDonald’s crap junk food in years. The only reason I ever go there is to use the restroom.

outspoken1

June 12th, 2010
5:23 pm

howsabout???

ErinMACali’s Noodle FACTORY

guy

June 12th, 2010
6:05 pm

Cheesy Pleasey

Art

June 12th, 2010
7:18 pm

“Kill all the lawyers… except maybe Soupy Sales,” said William McShakespeare.

Chip Shoulder

June 12th, 2010
7:48 pm

Little Mac did not elicit any brand confusion for me vis-a-vis McDonald’s, but I immediately thought of Little Mac, the scrappy boxer who takes on Mike Tyson in Mike Tyson’s Punch-out on the Original Nintendo.

LuverofCheese

June 12th, 2010
8:22 pm

How about MaxaRoni’s or Roni’s?

Gram

June 12th, 2010
8:53 pm

Call it whatever you want. McD’s doesn’t OWN everything Mc/Mac. I can see MAYBE Mc…but not MAC. Don’t give in…take it to court. I’ll bet you win!

Gram

June 12th, 2010
8:57 pm

Who the HE** does McD’s think they are, anyway? Rulers of the universe? I say we all boycott them…heck…I never eat there anyway. It’s the most tasteless crap I’ve ever eaten.

Sophy

June 12th, 2010
9:06 pm

Wait….a macaroni and cheese specialty restaurant. Really??? How long do you think they’ll NEED a name? ;)

Sophy

June 12th, 2010
9:07 pm

How ’bout “Ick A Roni”

30309

June 12th, 2010
9:08 pm

They once sued a restaurant in Florida by the name Nicky D’s because it sounded too much like the term Micky D’s. They had to change their name. Ironically it was right across the street from a McDonald’s.

Nora

June 14th, 2010
12:14 pm

Yeah, that would all be fine and well except that the name McDonald is a REAL name, not one they coined. Are people named McDonald allowed to name their own businesses after themselves? And besides that, can it be that this fast food supergiant really feels threatened by some “Mom-and-Pop” restaurant using a fragment of their name. Really?

SeeAScot

June 15th, 2010
3:50 am

When I saw the term “Little Mac” I thought it was going to be something about George B. McClellan, general in charge of the Union forces in northern Virginia and Washington DC. from mid 1861 through mst of 1862. He was a short man and very popular with his troops who affectionately called him “Little Mac”

McDonalds ought to do a bit of research on the meanings of the terms they use to describe their food items. Mac or Mc in Scotland means “son of” similar to the O’ in Ireland. John O’Donald and John MacDonald are both John son of Donald. In usage it actually means child of as no one is going to think that someone named Mary MacDonald is a son.
I have never had an egg McMuffin, as I prefer eggs which are descended from chickens.
OTOH McDonalds gets away with using McRib as the only person with a claim to being the child of a rib – Eve – is not around to sue!

Prof

June 16th, 2010
8:40 am

This is just an Urban Legend. It didn’t happen. McDonald’s denies ever contacting them and have publicly stated they would welcome “Little Mac.” Think about it – lawyers don’t “call”, they send registered letters.