L.A. TECH & MEDIA LAW FIRM – Intellectual Property & Technology Law

Lawyer Explains Trademark Coexistence: Denver Nuggets vs. Chicken McNuggets

Denver Nuggets vs. Chicken McNuggets Trademark and Likelihood of Confusion - L.A. Tech and Media Law Blog

Trademarks play a crucial role in distinguishing and protecting the intellectual property of businesses, including startups and businesses launched by technology entrepreneurs . In this blog, we explore the trademark coexistence between the trademark DENVER NUGGETS, owned and used by a professional basketball team of the National Basketball Association (NBA), and the trademark CHICKEN MCNUGGETS, owned by McDonald’s corporation. . Join us as we delve into the fascinating world of trademark law and examine the trademark coexistence between these two famous trademarks. 

Learn more about Likelihood of Confusion Analysis for Trademarks in Chapter 3 of Tip-Top Trademarks. Brand Protection Blueprint for Business. Now Available on Amazon. 


Trademark law grants exclusive rights to businesses or individuals over specific names, logos, or symbols that represent their goods or services. It allows consumers to identify and differentiate between products or services in the marketplace. Trademark law grants the exclusive right to use a word (brand name), phrase (slogan) or a symbol (logo) in advertising and marketing. In the case of the term “NUGGETS” both McDonald’s corporation and the Denver Nuggets of the NBA own trademark registrations that contain the term “nuggets” raising the question of how two separate companies can have trademark rights to the same word.

THE DENVER NUGGETS TRADEMARK trademark coexistence between denver nuggets and mcdonalds nuggets trademark

United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) records show the Denver Nuggets are owners of U.S. TrademarkRegistration No. 6901393 for the word DENVER NUGGETS filed in International Class 041 for Entertainment and educational services in the nature of ongoing television and radio programs in the field of basketball and rendering live basketball games and basketball exhibitions; the production and distribution of radio and television shows featuring basketball games, basketball events and programs in the field of basketball; entertainment services in the nature of personal appearances by a costumed mascot or dance team at basketball games and exhibitions, clinics, camps, promotions, and other basketball-related events, special events and parties; fan club services; entertainment services, namely, providing a website featuring non-downloadable multimedia material in the nature of television highlights, interactive television highlights, video recordings, video stream recordings, interactive video highlight selections, radio programs, radio highlights, and audio recordings in the field of basketball; providing news and information in the nature of statistics and trivia in the field of basketball. 

trademark coexistence between denver nuggets and mcdonalds mcnuggets trademark and how they avoid likelihood of confusion


United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) records also show McDonald’s Corporation is the owner of U.S. Trademark Registration No. 1276402 for the term CHICKEN MCNUGGETS filed in International Class 029 for Chicken for Consumption On or Off the Premises. 


While both trademarks incorporate the term “nuggets,” it is essential to recognize that the Denver Nuggets operate in the sports and entertainment industry, while McDonald’s chicken nuggets belong to the food and restaurant industry.  Since the entertainment industry and the food and restaurant industry are highly unrelated, under the law, these trademarks can coexist despite being identical and otherwise having a high degree of similarity. 

trademark coexistence between denver nuggets and mcdonalds mcnuggets trademark registration record in USPTO

As discussed in Chapter 3 of Tip-Top Trademarks. Brand Protection Blueprint for Business, likelihood of confusion and trademark infringement are based on a multi-factor test, none of which are determinative. However, cases have determined that the most important factors to likelihood of confusion is similarity of the trademarks, and the proximity or relatedness of the businesses. In this case, since restaurant services by McDonald’s is highly unrelated to entertainment services and sports exhibition bythe National Basketball Association, the is no likelihood of confusion and the marks can coexist. 

The trademark coexistence between the Denver Nuggets and McDonald’s chicken McNuggets exemplifies the flexibility and adaptability of trademark law. Despite sharing a common term, these trademarks peacefully thrive in their distinct industries, enabling consumers to enjoy basketball excitement on the court and savor the taste of delicious chicken nuggets from McDonald’s. Understanding the nuances of trademark classification and consumer perception is crucial for businesses aiming to build and safeguard their brand identities. To learn more, reach Chapter 3 of Tip-Top Trademarks dedicated entirely to likelihood of confusion analysis, and consult with an experienced trademark lawyer as needed to plan your brand protection strategy with minimal risk of trademark infringement.

Picture of David N. Sharifi, Esq.
David N. Sharifi, Esq.

David N. Sharifi, Esq. is a Los Angeles based intellectual property attorney and technology startup consultant with focuses in entertainment law, emerging technologies, trademark protection, and “the internet of things”. David was recognized as one of the Top 30 Most Influential Attorneys in Digital Media and E-Commerce Law by the Los Angeles Business Journal.
Office: Ph: 310-751-0181; david@latml.com.

Disclaimer: The content above is a discussion of legal issues and general information; it does not constitute legal advice and should not be used as such without seeking professional legal counsel. Reading the content above does not create an attorney-client relationship. All trademarks are the property of L.A. Tech & Media Law Firm or their respective owners. Copyright 2024. All rights reserved.

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