Is McDonald’s About to Attack Starbucks and Dunkin?

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A recent trademark filing by McDonald’s (NYSE:MCD) has raised speculation that the fast-food giant might be positioning itself for an aggressive entry into the packaged coffee business.

Last month, McDonald’s filed a trademark using its name for ground and whole-bean coffee with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The move could suggest the company’s intent to squeeze new packaged coffee products with the familiar golden arches logo onto grocery store shelves. Companies like Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) and Dunkin’ Donuts, which is owned by Dunkin’ Brands (NASDAQ:DNKN), have had considerable past success selling their trademarked bagged coffee.

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So is McDonald’s trying to muscle its way in?

Company spokesperson Danya Proud said that is “not something I can confirm or deny at this time.” While she did say McDonald’s is “always looking at new and exciting ways to remain relevant to our customers and be where they need us to be,” she also added that it is “nothing new” for the company to file a trademark, and that such an action doesn’t necessarily indicate a new product campaign is in the works.

Still, the coffee industry is a growing one in the United States, with 58 percent of Americans over 18 years old drinking coffee regularly, and McDonald’s has enjoyed recent success with its “McCafe” line of coffee products. The fast-food chain’s coffee drinkers are proven to be notably loyal, as well.

With packaged coffee being a $5.6 billion dollar business, led by the likes of Starbucks, Dunkin’ and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (NASDAQ:GMCR), the opportunity for McDonald’s to enter the market is certainly an intriguing one.

McDonald’s wouldn’t be the only one jumping into the coffee game, either. Coinstar Inc. (NASDAQ:CSTR), which owns and operates the highly successful Redbox DVD-rental stations, recently announced plans to sell coffee at their kiosks. The company intends to install machines that will brew and dispense a variety of coffee, latte, and specialty drink options.

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