UnNews:McDonald's sues woman over new daughter's name
15 June 2008
DES MOINES, Iowa - To Stephanie Williams, playground teasing is the least of her children's worries.
Yesterday, the McDonald's Corporation announced that they were suing Williams, 24, for copyright infringement. The object of the corporation's ire? The name of Williams' newborn daughter, McKatelyn. When McKatelyn's name appeared in the local birth announcements, word got out to the company.
McKatelyn would have been William's fifth child, joining her sisters Rylee, 5; Adysyn, 3; and Miley, 1; and brother Shithead, 37. At the time of the lawsuit, Williams had already ordered several thousands of dollars' worth of pink monogrammed dresses, headbands, high heels, and bikinis. She had also registered McKatelyn by name on the lists of several prestigious preschools and social clubs.
"It's like, everyone knows her by McKatelyn. That's basically her name," Williams said. "I can't change it."
When asked how she came up with McKatelyn, Williams said, "Well, you see, I really like the name Katelyn, but then my sister Jessica, like, stole it for her own stupid baby. I'm just gonna kill her, you know? So then I wanted to name her, like, Mikayla or Mackenzie, because that's so adorable, but then my cousin Lauren and my other sister Jennifer actually took them. So I thought McKatelyn, like, kinda sounded like Katelyn, but then kinda like Mikayla, you know? And it's basically really cute because she's, like really cute too. And I can actually call her McKatielyn for short. It was perfect. I can't believe they're being so mean."
McDonald's CEO Jim Skinner, however, saw it not as a matter of cruelty, but one of copyright violation.
"We at McDonald's believe in the fundamental American values of order, justice, and property rights," Skinner said in an official statement. "We are adamantly opposed to McLibel and firmly believe in the power of the law to punish infringers."
According to Skinner, McDonald's had planned to use the name McKatelyn to market a new line of premium supersized children's meals. Each type of meal would be named after a special mascot, whose toy would be included. As of June 2008, these mascots included McKaytee, McJayden, McMadelyn, McHunter, and, of course, McKatelyn. The name was "well on its way" to beginning the trademark process when Williams' daughter was born; therefore, according to Skinner, her usage was "a clear instance" of copyright violation.
So far, Williams is the only parent to use the exact spelling of a McDonald's mascot name. If she loses the lawsuit, she will be forced to choose a new name for her daughter, a process about which she is apprehensive.
"It's, like, a lot of paperwork. And I'd basically have to return all of her stuff and tell all my friends that, like, her name had to be changed," Williams said. "It's not fair. Why don't they just sue everyone else with Mc in their name? I mean, like, why does it have to be my baby?"
This is not the first time that McDonald's has used its corporate muscle against suspected copyright infringers. Former lawsuit subjects included the small businesses McCoffee, McCurry, and McChina, as well as the Scottish surname MacDonald. Most of these cases have resulted in settlements or name changes, and thus most legal analysts predict that Williams has no chance of winning.
"You can't fight The Man," said Jeff Compson, a communications student at Iowa State University. "It's just corporate America and all that [expletive deleted], man." When pressed for future analysis, Compson was unavailable, having to complete a purchase. Predictions aside, Williams plans to fight for her daughter's name.
"I mean, it's not like they can do anything," she said. "My friend Justin actually got sued for downloading music and he isn't, like, in jail or anything. He just paid them a whole bunch but my mommy can take care of it."
If she does happen to lose the lawsuit, Williams has already spent time searching for an alternative name. Criteria include the name being "cute" and "unique," but not too "weird" or "boring."
"I think I'll actually use my second choice and basically call her, like, Nevaeh," Williams said. "It's heaven backwards!"
- Social Security Administration "Popular baby names" Social Security Administration, June 15, 2008
- Wikipedia "McDonald's legal cases" Wikipedia, June 15, 2008