Saturday, January 23, 2010

"McMeanie" Part II---McDonalds is a champion of Private Property Rights!! Super-Size Me!!

After a comment from a trademark law professor, I have thought about the previous "McMeanie" posting I made. I did not keep with my "economic way of thinking" and let "emotion" get in the way of the larger concept (I am not emotionless/non-emphathetic. Just trying to be consistent) of private property rights, which in my opinion, is the fuel for our economic engine.  That is what trademarks/patents do and MUST continue to do. Professor Randazza makes an excellent point in his blog response to McDonalds action:
This isn’t heavy-handed, it is smart business. McDonalds has a strong brand in its “Mc” prefix, and stopping someone from securing a trademark registration inside that turf is not the same thing as stopping them from using the name. If you don’t protect your trademark turf from minor incursions, after a while, the mark can die the death of a thousand paper cuts. McDonalds has some pretty well-established trademark turf, with registrations for McPen, McBurger, McBuddy, McWatch, McDouble, McJobs, McShirt, McPool, McProduct, McShades, McFree, McRuler, McLight, etc. Allowing a McFest to enter the field would cause some ever-so-slight erosion of their McHegemony in that area, and make their trademark worth just a bit less.
Look at it this way, if Ms. McClusky got her registration for McFest, then she could potentially license that trademark to Burger King for a concert festival. Yeah, really. Either that, or she could expand her tiny McFiefdom, and eventually cause some real branding problems for Grimace and the gang. Sure, the likelihood is low, but McDonalds didn’t get where it is by being lackadaisical about its trademark rights.
Yes, this case is VERY small potatos (fries?) but if McDonalds allowed  a precedent of trademark registration for a name/logo so closely related to its brand, it does open the door to the erosion of Private Property Rights...So, McDonalds takes a hit in the PR department but preserves private property rights and avoids a "Commons Problem"...Super-size my combo and pass the ketchup…

The best book I have read on the sanctity of private property rights is "The Mystery of Capital" by Hernando De Soto...I highly recommend it...
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