Olive Garden is trying to make nice with a blogger they recently accused of violating their trademark, but he tells Fox News he still has concerns about the company's legal task force.
Darden Restaurants Inc. — the owners of the Olive Garden franchise — had recently sent a automated cease-and-desist email to Vino Malone of AllOfGarden.com, telling him to remove all “metatags, keywords, visible or hidden texts” which reference the Olive Garden restaurant, as they believed him to be infringing upon their intellectual property.
On Tuesday, however, Malone revealed that the company had walked back its stance, and promised to take no further action as long as Malone “continue[s] to respect” the Olive Garden brand.
In a statement he gave to Fox News, Malone added that he's "happy the issue was resolved satisfactorily," although he still worries about writers in similar situations.
"I have a lingering worry that the automated system they use to detect trademark violations and send out cease-and-desist letters can and will be used to silence people without the emotional/financial wherewithal to risk a lawsuit with a huge company," he said.
Darden first contacted Malone last week, informing him that he was infringing “upon the exclusive intellectual property rights of Darden Corporation” by continuing to maintain the AllOfGarden website, which Malone originally created to document his adventures with the Never Ending Pasta Pass.
But instead of acquiescing to Darden’s demands, Malone penned a response in which he argued that he was protected under the Nominative Fair Use doctrine. He also mocked Darden’s email, which had asked him to comply with their requests and respond within 10 days.
“If you want me to remove references to the Olive Garden from my blog, which, I remind you, solely consists of references to Olive Garden, I'm afraid I must decline,” wrote Malone.
“Please respond within nine (9) days, in limerick form,” he added near the end.
Just under a week later, Malone received a follow-up email from Darden — the same email in which they asked him to continue to “respect” the brand — telling him that company’s legal team “huddled” up and decided to let him off the hook. They also offered him a $50 gift card for his troubles, as well as an “additional fun surprise” that they have yet to reveal.
Olive Garden, too, confirmed to Fox News that Malone's site was "flagged through automated means" and the letter generated automatically.
"After review, we have determined no action is necessary and have shared that with the recipient," said the company.
Also — perhaps not surprisingly — Malone isn’t done having a little fun at Olive Garden’s expense. On Tuesday, he took to his blog to recap the entire ordeal in limerick form, seeing as Darden failed to provide him with any limericks themselves.
“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," read one of Malone’s limericks.
He also concluded his last stanza with the line, “At least I’m not going to court.”
Malone originally began his blog in 2015 after obtaining a promotional Pasta Pass, which entitled him to unlimited Olive Garden fare for a limited amount of time.