July 22, 2017

"Mr. Forcements—may I call you Branden?" — so begins the response to email from Olive Garden's "brandenforcements."

From Vincent "Vino" Malone, a guy who blogs about eating at Olive Garden. Olive Garden is policing its brand name, in the typical galumphing way that big corporations do, more fearful of losing a trademark than looking like bullying idiots.

27 comments:

traditionalguy said...

Brilliant.

richard schaaf said...

This guy's extremely good. I'm disappointed Yard House is among their holdings, because I'd love to boycott everything they own, but they have 130 beers on tap

Lewis Wetzel said...

" . . . more fearful of losing a trademark . . ."
Suppose OG's value is $10 billion. Isn't much or most of that value in the trademark?

Earnest Prole said...

Fearful of losing a trademark? I'd be interested in knowing what corporations, if any, have lost a trademark in the last thirty years by failing to write idiotic letters like this one. I'm pretty sure I know the answer, but if I'm wrong please let me know.

Kirk Parker said...

Someone posited that the letter was written by a LawBot, not a human being.

Clark said...

It seems that our bot made a legal muss,
The letter it sent was quite odious,
We’re sorry that Branden
Sent threats with abandon,
So please do go right on reviewing us.

Achilles said...

Read this yesterday.

I am betting that Reddit comes under coordinated attack soon. It has popped up i several stories lately and offers a platform where the hoi polloi can organize and mock the elites.

Lewis Wetzel said...

Family Dining, LLC, hires a research firm to determine what style of restaurant will do well for a Demographic, such as families with incomes between $40k & $75k a year that eat out once a month. Then FD, LLC hires a research team to find the best leasable restaurant locations near previously found demographic. FD, LLC then hires a lease and a site design team to get the restaurant locations at the best price, and get the look and flow correct and consistent. It hires a chef to design a menu that can be prepared by low skilled workers at a profit.
Last, it hires a management team to oversee operations, top to bottom.
The brand name of the restaurant chain is the only thing of "real" value owned by Family Dining, LLC.

Big Mike said...

I trust that Mr. Branden Forcement is not a graduate of Wisconsin Law.

Jim said...

I'm an engineer. But law seems stupid if letting a fan blog about your restaurant causes you to forfeit property rights to your name. It's like, in 1953, Missouri executed a couple who kidnapped and killed a little boy less than 100 days after the crime. Now you don't even get charged that quickly. What's wrong with the legal profession?

Rick said...

The brand name of the restaurant chain is the only thing of "real" value owned by Family Dining, LLC.

To me it sounds like the "real value" is the intellectual knowledge of how to identify potential customers and satisfy their desire to eat out within their means.

gadfly said...

Darden opened its first Olive Garden Italian Restaurant in 1983 and suddenly get super-sensitive about trademark infringements?

In 2011 they won an infringement suit against TGI Fridays, which advertised "Never-Ending Shrimp" which supposedly stomped on trademarks for "Never-Ending Pasta" and "All You Can Eat Shrimp!"

UPDATE: The letter to Malone was auto-generated, and the company will take no further action, a spokeswoman for Darden told Bloomberg BNA, after the blog was posted.

Known Unknown said...

This is what happens you put process over product.

jaed said...

law seems stupid if letting a fan blog about your restaurant causes you to forfeit property rights to your name

It doesn't. The letter is an idiocy outside the law; the law says anyone can use a trademarked name to refer to the product. You can let people write fan blogs until the cows come home, and it won't endanger your rights to the trademark.

Kirk Parker said...

Jim,

Nobody forfeited property rights here: the blogger is using the trademarked name of the restaurant chain to refer to the restaurant chain.

Kirk Parker said...

Auto-generated!

Do we have a case for barretry against Darden? There would be no problem using a bot to scan and find things to bring to your IP attorney's attention... but to send it out without even a smidgen of human review.... Yikes.

Lewis Wetzel said...

Blogger Rick said...
The brand name of the restaurant chain is the only thing of "real" value owned by Family Dining, LLC.

To me it sounds like the "real value" is the intellectual knowledge of how to identify potential customers and satisfy their desire to eat out within their means.

But the branding is where you make your money. See Coca Cola. If I could duplicate Coke's recipe so that my product was indistinguishable from Coke, how much would my company be worth?

Original Mike said...

WOW!!! Lilek's Olive Garden screed!. For some reason, I've been unable to find this the last several years.

tim maguire said...

It would be a sad day for intellectual property if a law intended to protect the public from confusion based on the marketing of similar products under similar names could successfully be used to prevent someone from writing about their experiences at a business establishment.

But, of course, it's been "a sad day for intellectual property" for decades. I 50% blame congress and 50% blame the courts.

tim maguire said...

gadfly said...UPDATE: The letter to Malone was auto-generated, and the company will take no further action, a spokeswoman for Darden told Bloomberg BNA, after the blog was posted.

I'm of the opinion that it should be against the law to auto-generate take down notices. The law as worded supports the view that it is, but it's completely unenforced.

Pianoman said...

For all you MadTV fans out there, a classic:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKZS4Jn6gRM&spfreload=10

Bruce Hayden said...

"But, of course, it's been "a sad day for intellectual property" for decades. I 50% blame congress and 50% blame the courts."

I blame the IP attorneys. Esp the "soft" IP attorneys, who can't do real IP (I.e. Patents).

Disclaimer - I am a patent attorney.

Ralph L said...

It's like, in 1953, Missouri executed a couple who kidnapped and killed a little boy less than 100 days after the crime
The man who shot at FDR on Feb 15, 1933 was executed on March 20, 1933.

Ralph L said...

I've got my mother's similar sterling s & p shakers two feet from me right now.
Somewhere, I've got her mother's and my father's grandmother's small individual shakers.
We like a lot of salt, hardly any pepper.

gadfly said...

@Original Mike said...
WOW!!! Lilek's Olive Garden screed!. For some reason, I've been unable to find this the last several years.

From The Screed:"It might, in short, go down badly at all 477 branches of the Olive Garden. One of these branches is in my home town of Fargo, North Dakota. It’s packed every time we go there,

The Fargo Olive Garden was my first meal in one of these restaurants back in 1991. Memory serves that the food was better back then. I was doing some consulting work, so my out-of-town team ate at the OG store and then we went to West Acres Mall to properly show homage to the Great Roger Maris.

Now that I think about it, this event was one of the highlights of my very first visit to North Dakota. But who can forget the Red River flooding backwards from the Canadian ice and miles and miles of boring landscape broken only by road intersections and telephone poles which I swear must be the ND State Tree.

But things have changed in Fargo. The Fighting Sioux are long-gone but the Coen Brothers movie will live forever.

Marge Gunderson: Say, Lou, didya hear the one about the guy who couldn't afford personalized plates, so he went and changed his name to J3L2404?

Lou: Yah, that's a good one.

Rick said...

But the branding is where you make your money. See Coca Cola. If I could duplicate Coke's recipe so that my product was indistinguishable from Coke, how much would my company be worth?

You demonstrated there is tremendous value in being first. Branding is only one element among many and is certainly not the core value. Branding enhances the core value.

mikeski said...

telephone poles which I swear must be the ND State Tree.

The state tree of North Dakota is the American Elm.

Not the whole species; it's just this one tree outside of Grafton.

But things have changed in Fargo. The Fighting Sioux are long-gone

The university team formerly known as the Fighting Sioux was in Grand Forks. Fargo's university has the Bison.

The Sioux are now the Fighting Hawks, despite having no trees to sit in. North Dakotan hawks sit on telephone poles.