In Trademark Spats, Olive Garden Serves Up Emails, Arby’s Sends Puppy

Olive Garden

A man’s love of Olive Garden pasta has put him in the crosshairs of the Italian restaurant’s parent company, Darden Concepts Inc. 

According to Vincent Malone, the man behind, Darden sent him a cease-and-desist email, accusing him of infringing the Olive Garden trademark. Darden’s form letter says the “trademark Olive Garden appears as a metatag, keyword, visible or hidden text on the web site,” and these are infringing uses that could cause a likelihood of confusion. 

Darden didn’t immediately respond to a request to confirm the email’s authenticity.

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.  

Malone uses the website to chronicle his goal to eat Olive Garden in copious amounts. He apparently has an Olive Garden Pasta Pass, giving him access to all-you-can-eat pasta, according to his website. 

Malone posted his response to Darden, in which he said that he will not remove references to Olive Garden. He says that he only uses the name to refer to and identify the restaurant, which is protected under the nominative fair use doctrine. 

Companies often struggle to respond to the unauthorized use of their trademarks online, whether it’s being used by fans, parodists, or counterfeiters. It’s unclear whether Darden’s seemingly heavy-handed response will spark a backlash, but others have taken a lighter approach. 

Arby's Restaurant Group Inc. is a good example. For several years, a popular Twitter account, @nihilist_arbys, has been tweeting musings such as: “Someday you and every single thing you've ever known or loved will cease to exist. Eat Arbys.”

According to one report, company executives decided it was futile to send a legal threat to the anonymous account. However, once it discovered that musician Brendan Kelly was behind the account, it did the next best thing- the company sent Kelly a bag of Arby’s sandwiches, a dog, and a note: “Cheer up, buddy. You live in a world with puppies ... and sandwiches.”