McDonald’s and Panera Bread have filed trademark applications to reserve the QSR space in the ever-expanding metaverse.
The filings position both restaurant chains to potentially operate virtual restaurants where food and beverage orders placed in the metaverse would be fulfilled in the real world.
Among other things that would be covered by the trademarks are the issuance of non-fungible tokens (NFTs)—aunique, digital representations of various assets.
One of 10 filings by McDonald’s Corp. on Feb. 4 seeks to secure the term McCafé—a reference to the chain’s coffee and other beverages—for “operating a virtual restaurant featuring actual and virtual goods.”
One of two Feb. 3 filings for Panera is an application for the word mark Paneraverse for uses involving myriad goods and services.
Among them are “providing online virtual restaurants and cafes in virtual environments created for entertainment purposes” and “providing an online virtual restaurant wherein users can earn reward points and virtual currency which made be used to purchase food and beverages.”
The trademark filings were revealed Feb. 9 on Twitter by trademark attorney Josh Gerben.
In response to an inquiry, Panera chief digital officer George Hanson said that “Panera is always working to be at the forefront of tech advancement. As a brand we are consistently looking for new ways to better our guest experience, whether in our cafes or in the metaverse.”
McDonald’s did not respond to a request for comment.
According to Vlad Ginzburg, CEO of the collectables platform Blockparty, McDonald’s and Panera are acknowledging the emergence of a “digitally native” economy.
Their patents are "a savvy approach to not being left behind,” Ginzburg tells Marketing Daily. Both QSRs can remain competitive “by removing a barrier to using their service.” Instead of “a user de-platforming from whatever metaverse they are participating in” to get food, he or she can "engage with the brand or service within the experience.”
Ginzburg adds, “Brands will begin to realize that by adding value to the metaverse and NFT ecosystem, they themselves will benefit from its growth.”