Dear Di Carlo’s Pizza: A Recipe Blogger’s Response to Trademark Bullying

I recently posted a blog and review about my favorite childhood pizza,  Di Carlo’s Original Pizza, and a recipe tribute to the pizza I grew up eating and now miss living here in Florida. I gave the particular pizza and company rave reviews and shared my own interpretation of the recipe in the same article.  It appears that post has drawn some unwanted attention.

*Update, I have been getting several emails from people who have pinned or bookmarked the original post of the recipe. I have since edited the article and you can find the recipe here. I haven’t pulled it. It is still alive and well.

I received a comment on my About Page from a representative of the company. Here is the unedited comment:

“Please remove anything and everything that involves DiCarlos Pizza. DiCarlos Pizza is a registered trademark with the USPTO and it us illegal to publish articles that have to do with our product with out consent. Your article has come to my attention from a number of people. I appreciate the fact that you are a fan, but I don’t appreciate you posting recipes that have to do with my business and also are incorrect. I don’t want to make this a legal issue, but please remove your article immediately.”

-DiCarlo’s Pizza

My response:

Dear Di Carlo’s Pizza:

I can only assume from your above response that you either have not consulted your legal counsel before firing off that ridiculous comment, or you were ill-advised by your counsel. I hope it’s the former. In my opinion, this is a futile attempt on your part to silence my Constitutionally protected right to Freedom of Speech. I feel this was conducted for personal reasons cleverly disguised as accusations of Trademark Infringement. Not cool.

I’ll admit, initially you had me shaking in my “blogger boots” and scrambling to wrap my head around what I did. I almost felt as if someone may even come drag me away in handcuffs. Although, I must thank you for the crash course in Trademark Law and Trademark Bullying.

I think it would be doing a huge disservice to myself and other bloggers by not calling you out on your bad behavior.

You would have me believe I can not mention your Trademark name in ANY capacity whatsoever. Luckily, I’m not that gullible. That is blatantly untrue and ridiculous, and I imagine, somewhat embarrassing on your part.

If you are going to police the internet under the scope of your trademark rights, threatening small time bloggers, such as myself, along with a plethora of Yelp and Trip Adviser reviewers, stating we can’t mention your company name without asking your consent,  you should at least have some knowledge of Trademark Law and a structured factual basis for your claim.

It is my suspicion that you have either knowingly or unknowingly resorted to:

1.) Unreasonable interpretation of the scope of your trademark rights.

2.) Intimidation and Manipulation tactics, related to the above, in order to enforce your demands by way of manipulative insulting remarks (i.e. your emails regarding my lack of compliance which you inferred as unladylike and “extremely low class,”) and inciting threats of “legal problems.”

You went on to ask why I would “fight and lose over a legal battle over something so small?” Which, in my opinion, is the “pot calling the kettle black.”

This is outright legal intimidation, highly suggestive of legal superiority. It’s somewhat nauseating. Fortunately for me, I’m not the defenseless imbecile you make me out to be.

Furthermore, you have failed to fairly assess my website and its primary use. It is a Recipe Blog where I express myself artistically through food. I write reviews, share stories, develop, and recreate recipes for a small circle of readers. I’m not on some covert operation to single handedly bring down your company.

My website is noncommercial. I also do not carry a mark similar to yours, nor link to any advertisers or other third party commerce sites. Therefore, I’m not sure how any of this constitutes infringement. Please refer to Warner Brothers Corporation policing of third party non commerce Harry Potter sites. It was quite the red-faced debacle for Warner Bros.

I’m slightly embarrassed to admit this, but I’m still confused to the alleged claims in regard to “misuse” of your trademark name. Your last email sounded somewhat desperate in nature, given that the prior threat promised legal problems if I didn’t remove your name from my article within the next 24 hours. Finally, in a last ditch effort, accusing me of “causing many problems” with your business and “tainting” your product and name. This is almost laughable.

Rest assured I take it quite seriously; however, I’m sure you can understand my confusion. I trust you will make this more clear should you decide to move forward with your threat.

In that event, I’ve compiled a list of requests that I hope you will kindly forward on to your counsel, as this will expedite the process for all parties involved.  After all, you have a business to run, and I have a full time job to tend to, since my blog doesn’t bring in any income.

1.) Please explain clearly and concisely, kindly keeping the legal jargon to a minimum, the exact nature of your client’s Trademark Infringement or Trademark Dilution claims. As we  know, neither qualifies.

This leaves one obvious reason only. Encroachment upon my First Amendment right by your client through intimidation and bullying tactics.  I suspect this is more personal than business oriented. I can’t imagine this person has that much time to police social media sites making such false accusations.

2.) Please kindly forward copies of all Cease and Desist letters or expressed Written Consent for the below sites, whom according to your client, “illegally” mention the use of her trademark name without consent.

a.) All Yelp, Trip Advisor, and Yellow Page review sites that mention Di Carlo’s Pizza.

b.) Bordas Law Blog

c.) Candace Lately

d.) The Food Guy

e.) America’s Best Pizza Honor Rolls

f.) Serious Eats

g.) Iowa Girl Eats

I could go on, but I think this will suffice for now.

3.) In regard to accusations that I “caused problems” with your client’s business and “tainted” the product and name, you may want to advise your client that their social media site shared my blog on 12/15/2013 and continue to share other followers posts’ in relation to the very article she claims is undermining her business.  Oopsie!

4.) Please advise your client to stop emailing me with continued threats and intimidation.

I am open to an amicable resolution for all parties involved. In the meantime, I will report the Trademark Bullying activity to Chilling Effects.

Please understand I hold no ill will toward Di Carlo’s Original Pizza. I love their pizza and I would choose a slice over my version in a heartbeat. I would walk into a shop right now and order up a slice, but I fear I’d have to put on a wig, hat, and sunglasses first.

Sincerely,

Sherri M.

* If commenting below, please only leave respectful comments and avoid disparaging remarks. Comments will be moderated and removed at my discretion. Some have been emailing me comments and I welcome those also. Thank you.

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22 Comments

  1. avatar

    You go girl! Maybe their business is not what it use to be. They could be worried that people could have you make pizza for their customers and ship it to them clear from Florida! Ohhh Scary stuff! LOL!

  2. avatar
    Whitney Buterbaugh

    Would you be willing to email me this recipe? I don’t live in the Ohio Valley anymore and I don’t see Dicarlos expanding

    Thank you

    • avatar

      Whitney,
      There is a link to the recipe in my very first sentence. There are instructional photos and a printable recipe at the very end of the post.

      Thank you.

  3. avatar

    If anything, you’d think that they’d be happy that someone is talking positively about their product.
    Thanks for telling your story.

    • avatar

      OMG…”Yinz”erella! I love it! I know whenever I hear someone say “Yinz” in a sentence they must be from around my old stopping grounds. I remember I had said “Yinz” to someone in college and someone looked at me and asked, “What did you just say?” Haha, I never said that word again. But my sisters and I use it in jest all the time. My family moved from Mingo Junction, OH when I was two. We settled in the Youngstown area, but went back to MJ often to visit relatives.

      I checked out your blog also. I’ll be by regularly to read your posts.

      Thank you for your kind comments.

      • avatar

        So sorry I cannot find this recipe. I was excited to try it, even bough the provolone today. I live in Mingo Jct. and could easily drive to Steub. to get some DiCarlos pizza, but love to cook and have been searching for a good home version of pizza. I don’t see the link in your comments but would love if you would e-mail it to me or let me know where I can find the link.

  4. avatar

    Wow, I had no idea you were being bullied by a Di Carlo’s Pizza representative. Your rebuttal looks spot-on. Continue your stance, and I hope they (she) will back down soon.
    Is this why your site went viral? She and her legal dept. checking you out?

    • avatar

      Hi Jean. Well actually I think it’s the other way around. Because the pizza is so popular in the WV, OH, & PA areas, that someone posted the recipe link on social media and it went viral from there. I’m not exactly sure how the representative found out, but I’m thinking they decided to bully me first on their own, before they sent in the “big guns.”

      Whether that happens or not, remains to be seen.

  5. avatar

    Your AWESOME! Cannot wait to try your special recipe pizza ! haha! …XO

  6. avatar
    Will Martin

    I’m bummed out that “your” pizza recipe is no longer available! You said there is a link in your first sentence. However that is not working either. Can you help?……Loved your rebuttal by that way!

    • avatar

      Will,

      It’s possible it’s the device you are using that is giving you problems with the above links. The recipe is still up. You can go to my homepage and scroll down to locate the article, or do a search in the box above for My Review and Recipe Tribute to Di Carlo’s Original Pizza.

      Hope that helps.

  7. avatar
    Christina Utter

    Wow! That is craaaazy! I went out and bought everything I needed to make it. Got everything ready, opened my tablet and no recipe! They stink!
    …btw, excellent response to their rediculous post.

  8. avatar
    John Jones

    I recently had a party and invited a bunch off people even my fellow steel valley friends were impressed (I live in Cleveland now). I don’t get why Dicarlos is so worried about this but I modified the recipe to be more like my favorite Rays pizza In Wintersville just a little different sauce (added mushrooms did both red and green peppers) and Mozzerella cheese. Turned out wonderfully, thank you very much for your rendition.

  9. avatar
    Michelle Linscott

    I, for one, will not be eating the “square pizza that must not be named”, anymore. I refuse to support bullies in any way shape or form. Fortunately, we have very good options such as Giannamores in Wintersville and Jax in Richmond. The 2 I prefer above “the square pizza that must not be named”. Then there is Brunos and Rays as well. Shame on them for taking such a wonderful and postive post and turning it into something ugly.

  10. avatar

    The reason why they made a big stink about it is because they plan to start shipping it. I’m not sure how good they really think it will be shipped…but that’s probalby why they made such a big stink and bullied you. Good for you for standing your ground! Keep up the good work!

    • avatar

      Sherrie,
      Thank you for the support and your comment. Honestly, if they shipped it, I’d try it! As I said, I’m not single handedly trying to sabotage their business. I highly doubt that could ever happen. I simply gave my own interpretation and recipe which reminds me of my favorite pizza. I’m not sure why they got their panties in such a bunch, but I haven’t heard anything from them since I posted this response.

  11. avatar
    Bruce Wiegmann

    My hat is off to you– i like you left the Ohio Valley area in 1981 after getting an engineering degree – first going to oil patch in Texas, then to becoming a rocketman for NASA in Huntsville, AL for over 32 years…. And i miss this ol town favorite.

    My 12 year old daughter wishes to try various versions of what you have posted and see if we get close…

    I am truly amazed at your efforts here (all families should be lucky like yours with a woman who loves to create great foods!) and i appreciate your sons duty to our country. Huntsville is home to a major component of todays Army and Missile Defense Agency.

    • avatar

      Bruce,

      Small world eh? Much respect for Engineers. My b/f is an Engineer. Wow! A NASA rocket man. How can you beat a profession like that? Sounds so glamourous and “top secret.” At least that’s how I envision it. Thank your for your nice comments. I truly appreciate each and every comment that readers take the time to write.

      I hope you daughter enjoys making the variations as much as I enjoyed creating my version of a childhood favorite.

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