The big buzz in Worcester this week has been about the Miss Worcester Diner getting a cease and desist letter from Harley Davidson’s lawyers to take down a painted logo sign on top of the popular eatery.
We’ve been summonsed by the owner of Miss Worcester Diner.
And she’s been seeking out and getting the attention of the media.
So here’s my simple take – HD owns the trademark, so they don’t have to let any business use their logo without their consent.
The diner’s owner doesn’t want it take down because she and many of her patrons are Harley enthusiasts. But again, none of that matters because Harley owns the trademark and you can’t have it put up without their permission.
Don’t get me wrong, whoever contacted HD headquarters is obviously a twat. That’s a given. But we’ll never know who they are, and it is what it is at this point.
Harley-Davidson is a multi-billion dollar company. They don’t need a diner in Worcester to advertise for them. They’ve probably spent millions of dollars on corporate branding so they can have it just the way THEY choose. They have an annual budget in the millions of dollars for advertising, and they carefully strategize where those ads will appear. This isn’t a knock on the artist or the business. It’s just HD looking out for its best interest.
The fact of the matter is that if you drove by there you’d be inclined to believe that HD and the diner have some sort of business relationship.
It’s kind of hard to miss. It doesn’t look like they’re just fans of HD, it looks like HD owns the joint.
HD doesn’t want to have to worry about potential litigation if there’s a slip and fall, or a waitress spills coffee on someone, or an employee of the diner says something controversial on social media. Then they end up getting attacked by a mob, just like our advertisers have been over the years, due to mutual association. HD has the right to decide who they want representing them.
Let’s take this scenario. I put a Miss Worcester Diner advertisement on the blog, even though they are not advertisers. I make it look like they are financially supporting the content we create. Then I go and say something fucked up, who’s the mob gonna after? My advertisers. Should Miss Worcester Diner have to deal with that? Of course not. Because I can’t use their logo without their consent.
Yet over 3,000 people have signed the petition to allow them to keep the sign up because…..feelings. That’s literally all this is – a mob of people who think feelings should trump copyright law. Pro-tip – if you’re dependent on a Change.org petition to get your way, you’re doing life wrong.
Also, comments like this from the owner don’t exactly help their cause.
“If I don’t get my way I’m gonna do some crazy shit up there instead.”
Awesome. HD won’t be affected in the least bit by that, but your neighbor’s will. Just put up a sign that says, “the official breakfast of Hurricane Betty’s” and business will triple. Collaborate with Worcester’s favorite seedy strip joint to offer discounts to people who patronize both businesses. Add “tits and grits” to your menu and watch business boom. That’s what I’d do.
I just don’t get why they don’t take it down. They claim to love Harley-Davidson, but they’re not exactly showing it.
I’ve gotten cease and desist letters before. They’re usually not this nice:
They’re creating a legal liability for HD, but will they help pay HD’s legal bills if they somehow get dragged into a potential lawsuit in the future? If you think that letter is bad then trying throwing a Patriots logo on top of your business and watch how quickly “nice guy” Bob Kraft’s lawyer rips in your asshole.
The bottom line is that the diner doesn’t have ill intentions here, they just don’t understand how the law works and seem to think that feelings matter. They don’t. Your business is not your bedroom, and you can’t decorate it as you please just because you like a company.
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