Owners of successful businesses understand that a company's image can be as important as the goods and services it offers. That's why many companies invest considerable money, time and legal resources into crafting and maintaining a positive "brand." They may even seek to control interactions between their customers and any third parties that also do business with the company.
According to news sources, one of California's most popular restaurant chains is taking legal action against a start-up that offers delivery services for restaurants that don't provide it. In-N-Out Burger has filed a lawsuit against DoorDash, alleging numerous business torts, including copyright infringement.
It is unclear if DoorDash has signed contracts with the restaurants it advertises delivery for. But In-N-Out Burger's lawsuit suggests that it has not entered any deals with the company. Indeed, the burger chain's copyright infringement claim stems from the use of the In-N-Out Burger logo on the DoorDash website and mobile app.
In-N-Out is also claiming that DoorDash may be hurting its brand in other ways. If customers receive cold food, tainted food or food that has otherwise been improperly handled, they may attribute the problem to In-N-Out Burger rather than DoorDash (regardless of which party was actually to blame).
To be sure, some restaurants are embracing the boost in sales that they get from delivery services like DoorDash. But because these services are still largely unregulated, businesses take a risk when allowing DoorDash to handle their products before customers receive them. Operating without a contract seemingly prevents restaurants from having a say in how third-party delivery services handle their products.
Of course, this is just one example illustrating a large and important concept. If you want to protect your company's image, you may also need to limit how other businesses profit from your carefully cultivated brand. If they are doing so in violation of a contract or without permission, you should seek help from an experienced business litigation attorney.