Fast food restaurant In-N-Out, known for its delicious burgers and secret sauce, is suing food delivery startup DoorDash, TMZ reported earlier today. In-N-Out, which filed the lawsuit on Nov. 6, 2015, claims trademark infringement and unfair competition. Basically, In-N-Out wants DoorDash to stop delivering their delicious food because of concerns around quality, food handling and safety.
Here’s a key piece of the filing:
Defendant’s use of Plaintiff’s famous trademarks implies that Defendant not only delivers In-N-Out products to its customers, but that the quality and services offered by Defendant is the same as if consumers had made purchases directly from Plaintiff. Upon information and belief, the quality of services offered by Defendant does not at all comport with the standards that consumers expect from Plaintiff’s goods and services. Further, Plaintiff has no control over the time it takes Defendant to deliver Plaintiff’s goods to consumers, or over the temperature at which the goods are kept during delivery, nor over the food handling and safety practices of Defendant’s delivery drivers. While Plaintiff adheres to the Food Code, on information and belief, Defendant does not adhere to such regulations, including with regard to compliance with required food safety and handling practices.
According to the filing, In-N-Out contacted DoorDash for the first time in April 2-14, requesting that the startup stop using In-N-Out’s logo on its site, and stop delivering or offering to deliver In-N-Out’s food. DoorDash CEO Tony Xu responded, according to the lawsuit, and said that DoorDash had removed references to In-N-Out from its website. But, in July 2015, the lawsuit states that DoorDash had started delivering In-N-Out’s food again, and began using an imitation logo on its website. DoorDash, according to the lawsuit filed, did not respond to In-N-Out’s letter in July, nor to a follow-up letter in August demanding that DoorDash immediately cease and desist using In-N-Out’s trademarks. Late September, In-N-Out sent a final letter to DoorDash, according to the filing, but DoorDash did not respond.
TechCrunch reached out to DoorDash for a comment on th lawsuit, and here’s what they said: “DoorDash uses its innovative logistics technology to deliver the very best food and products in neighborhoods across the country,” a DoorDash spokesperson told TechCrunch. “While we have various relationships with different merchants, we are proud to help people get their favorite food delivered directly to their door.”
News of this lawsuit comes a few days after DoorDash said it would be happy to comply with restaurants that wanted their food items removed from the site. Postmates, a relatively similar on-demand food delivery startup, used to deliver food from In-N-Out, but stopped delivering the restaurant’s food when they asked, even though it’s a really popular request.
It seems that DoorDash just put restaurant’s info on their site without first asking for permission… Small restaurants might just be fine with that, but not those big guys.