Olive Garden Apologizes To Allofgarden.com, Blames IP Enforcement Bot For Legal Threat

from the mea-cappelini dept

You will hopefully recall the recent story we did on Darden, parent company of the Olive Garden restaurant chain, sending a legal threat letter to the man behind allofgarden.com, a site that reviews Olive Garden dishes, because the internet is a strange, strange place. At issues, according to the threat letter, was that allofgarden.com named Olive Garden in metatags in its reviews of the dishes, which you should already know is nothing remotely resembling trademark infringement or infringement upon any other types of intellectual property, either. With that in mind, Vincent Malone replied to the threat letter in a manner both well-informed of his own rights and one which demonstrated just how funny Malone is. After refusing to comply with the requests in the letter, he demanded a reply within nine days in limerick form.

His demands were not met exactly, but Darden has now responded to Malone, apologizing for the letter, promising no further action would be taken against him, blaming an IP enforcement bot for the letter, and sending him a $50 gift card. Sadly, none of this was delivered in the limerick form Malone had requested.


As apologies for this sort of thing go, this one is pretty good. It was apparently in further conversations outside of this letter that Malone was told of the bot, which may well be true but only demonstrates that too many companies play loose with the way they seek to enforce their rights. This story ends on a positive note only because Malone decided not to immediately back down out of fear of a much larger company, after all. It doesn't take too much imagination to suppose that there could be, or perhaps have been, instances we don't know about in which sites simply comply with these unreasonable demands instead of seeking limerick apologies as Malone had.

But if you thought I was going to leave you having read this post without a limerick to read, I can allay those concerns, as Malone himself decided to inform his readers of all of this in poetic form.

As of six thirty-five in the PMs
I've wrapped up my talks with the chieftains
They were misconstrued;
I'm not getting sued
And I needn't write out any ™s

Yes! An official who represents Darden
Has granted me a total pardon
We've reached resolution
I received absolution
For daring to print "olive garden"

The source of the problem was sought
And the sender-offender was caught!
That e-mail was provided
(If you wonder [as I did])
by a prodigious, litigious spam-bot.

My sole issue with Legal's retort
Was the prose of their written report
The demand was specific:
a reply via lim'rick
Well. At least I'm not going to court.

Bravo.


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  • identicon
    Michael Fortner, 27 Jul 2017 @ 12:04pm

    OK, I get it now.

    When all else fails, blame the IT guys.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 27 Jul 2017 @ 12:07pm

    They pay for IP enforcement, who can't figure out what actual infringement is...

    There seriously needs to be penalties for sending bogus IP things, its the only way these companies will get better.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Jinxed (profile), 27 Jul 2017 @ 12:11pm

    I've seen this conclusion several times, and I'm disappointed every avenue ignored the white elephant in the room: the phrase "as long as you continue to respect our brand".

    No. Unacceptable.

    A company has no (legal) right to demand how anyone should address their "brand".

    At least he's not going to court.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mason Wheeler (profile), 27 Jul 2017 @ 12:24pm

      Re:

      I think that's shorthand for "respect our brand rights," ie. not committing actual trademark infringement. Which is a lot more reasonable than the literal reading.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 27 Jul 2017 @ 12:38pm

        Re: Re:

        Writing is about clarity; if they want the meaning of the phrase “respect our brand” to be construed as “respect our brand rights”, they can just say “respect our brand rights”. How much trouble would adding an extra six-letter word and clearing up any possible confusion really cause in this situation?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 27 Jul 2017 @ 6:37pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          About 7 characters worth of trouble.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          orbitalinsertion (profile), 27 Jul 2017 @ 8:25pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          I agree.

          As if he is suddenly going to run out and open another restaurant chain called The Olive Garden.

          If legal was in the huddle and made "them" add that phrase, then they certainly should have done a better job of phrasing it if they meant something other than what it sounds like.

          Or maybe they simply wanted a stereotypical Italian mobster flavor added. You know, for authentic-ness.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 28 Jul 2017 @ 6:28am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Especially since that part was ostensibly inserted by the d-bags in legal.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    John85851 (profile), 27 Jul 2017 @ 12:12pm

    It's not over

    Did Darden say they were going to stop using these IP bots? If not, then the issue it's settled. Although the situation worked out fine for this guy, I can easily see this happening again.
    In fact, I'd be willing to bet that an IP bot will send a notice to TechDirt for daring to mention Olive Garden (or olivegarden) in an article talking about Olive Garden.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Jeremy Lyman (profile), 28 Jul 2017 @ 6:32am

      Re: It's not over

      The first rule of Olive Garden is: You do not talk about Olive Garden.

      The second rule of Olive Garden is: You do not talk about Olive Garden.

      Third rule of Olive Garden: Someone yells "stop", goes limp, taps out, the Never Ending Pasta Bowl is over.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Jul 2017 @ 12:53pm

    Are you liable for things your bot says and/or does?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jordan Chandler, 27 Jul 2017 @ 12:56pm

    bot

    Since it's a bot what would have happened if he NEVER RESPONDED?

    I mean, you can't prove someone read your email. Is email even considered "Good faith" as to a means of communication? Send me a registered letter.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonmylous, 27 Jul 2017 @ 1:08pm

    Uhm...

    Is no one else wondering about Branden? He is now completely silent on this and that worries me. Did they fire him? Transfer him to Janitorial? Has he been kidnapped and sold to slavers in Southeast Asia never to be heard from again, his family left to wonder why he never came home, little Susie Forcements left to grow up without a father?

    What have you done with Branden, Darden?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Tyler Darden, 27 Jul 2017 @ 11:16pm

      Re: Uhm...

      I set Branden free.

      It's only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      ryuugami, 28 Jul 2017 @ 4:30am

      Re: Uhm...

      Hmm.

      From Wikipedia™, The Free Encyclopedia™:

      Olive Garden is an American casual dining restaurant chain specializing in Italian-American cuisine.

      From the email:

      Thanks,

      Your Olive Garden Family

      Oh boy. I suspect Mr. Branden is... sleeping with the fishes. Capisce?

      :)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 28 Jul 2017 @ 6:58am

      Re: Uhm...

      The Forcements family may be in a pinch!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Jul 2017 @ 2:51pm

    Lame excuse

    This just tells us that the IP bots aren't supervised. Whenever a /hit/ is generated there is no human verification.

    Same on the GrapeField for being so lazy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    McGyver (profile), 27 Jul 2017 @ 4:02pm

    $50 gift certificate... Wow.
    That'll make everything right... Kinda restores my faith in mankind.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Bergman (profile), 27 Jul 2017 @ 4:35pm

    What I'm wondering about...

    To file a valid DMCA takedown, you must state under penalty of perjury that you own the copyright in question and that you believe in good faith that the violate is not fair use.

    But a bot cannot do those things. A video is not court-admissible evidence because the rules of evidence predate the invention of video cameras -- a video is only admitted as evidence if a living human being watches it and then testifies about what the video shows, which can lead to absurd results if the person testilies instead.

    So, how exactly can a bot make a legally admissible statement, as required by a DMCA takedown? I honestly don't see how it possibly could.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Jul 2017 @ 5:41pm

    Ah, the good ol' corporate equivalent of the "but my dog ate my homework" excuse.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Jul 2017 @ 6:20pm

    Bot? Really?

    While it's good that they backed down and apologized and all, I'm not buying the bot bit. Alofgarden doesn't seem close enough to Olive Garden for that. If it were, Olive Garden would be sending threat letters to half the garden supply places in America, and I don't see that happening.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Jul 2017 @ 6:52pm

    Whaaaattt??

    Branden Forcements is a robot??? I'm shocked, shocked!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    McKay (profile), 27 Jul 2017 @ 9:29pm

    It was a limerick?

    It sounds like it could have been a limerick but someone (legal?) changed it?

    Thank you for bringing this to our atten(tion)
    And being such a passionate fan.
    We all (huddled and) will take
    No action relate(ed)
    As long as you respect our bran(d)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Jul 2017 @ 5:31am

    B-A-L-O-N-E-Y

    My bot has a first name,
    It's Branden
    My bot has a second name,
    It's Forcements
    I love to run it every day
    And if you ask me wny
    I'll say...
    'Cause Brand Forcements has a way with B-A-L-O-N-E-Y

    (sung to the tune of a certain 1973 TV commercial)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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