Both McDonald’s and Panera Bread have recently filed trademarks for a digital presence within the metaverse: the fully-realized virtual reality world that has been growing in popularity, thanks in part to the burgeoning trend of NFTs as digital assets.
According to the McDonald’s trademark application, the fast-food giant is looking to “operate a virtual restaurant featuring actual and virtual goods, operating a virtual restaurant online featuring home delivery.” This could mean that in the future, virtual reality visitors could walk up to a McDonald’s in the metaverse, order a burger and fries, and receive the meal in real life.
“When you have new technology on this platform, you’re going to want brand relevance in this virtual universe,” trademark attorney Josh Gerben, who first tweeted out the news, told Nation’s Restaurant News. “[…] Let’s say you’re playing games in the metaverse and you walk around and get hungry, you walk into a virtual McDonald’s, pay them and 20 minutes later it arrives at your door without you even having to take off your headset. You can see where that becomes a practical business opportunity.”
Panera Bread’s trademark application, meanwhile, is slightly different and allows the company to have NFTs serve as digital currency to purchase virtual food and beverages. Panera filed a trademark for the name “Paneraverse” under which the company intends to develop virtual restaurants and real-life food delivery applications.
“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,” Panera chief digital officer George Hanson said in a statement sent to Nation’s Restaurant News.
Other retail companies have expressed interest in entering the metaverse, like Nike, Adidas, Prada, and the Gap. Gerben thinks this is just the start of companies vying for a piece of virtual real estate, and predicts that over the next year, every Fortune500 company will file similar trademark applications for brand protection within the growing metaverse.
“NFTs are at the very beginning of their existence,” he said. “In the future, if you wanted to buy a Ronald McDonald NFT, it could give you access to discounts, company events, etc. There are a lot of things companies can do with these. As the metaverse becomes part of everyone’s daily lives, you’ll see people using them.”
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