Can Restaurants Sue Delivery Apps For Delivering Without Permission?


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Can Restaurants Sue Delivery Apps For Delivering Without Permission?


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The In-N-Out burger chain has filed a lawsuit against the food delivery startup company DoorDash, saying that DoorDash has delivered their food without their permission. DoorDash is similar to that of other third-party delivery services such as GrubHub.

Last spring, DoorDash managed to raise $35 million to bring its total company value to nearly $600 million. Customers can use the DoorDash website or its mobile app in order to request the delivery of food from restaurants that don’t offer their own delivery services.

The lawsuit from In-N-Out was filed on November 6 in the United States District Court for the Central District of California. In-N-Out is accusing DoorDash of trademark infringement and unfair competition practices. The burger company is seeking a permanent court order to force DoorDash to stop delivering its food.

The lawsuit says, “Despite the fact that DoorDash is in no way affiliated with In-N-Out, DoorDash has advertised, and continues to advertise, that it delivers food from In-N-Out’s restaurants, even displaying a fake In-N-Out logo.”

In-N-Out says that DoorDash was never authorized to deliver its food. The fast food restaurant is also concerned that employees of DoorDash might not handle their food properly. The lack of control is said to be particularly troubling for In-N-Out.

For the time being, DoorDash has respected the request of In-N-Out, as the DoorDash website no longer lists the burger company as one of its clients.

Other restaurants have also expressed outrage towards DoorDash, as several eating establishments in Manhattan and Brooklyn have complained about DoorDash increasing their menu prices.

For example, at one New York restaurant, a cheesesteak sandwich that typically costs $11 is priced at $16.95 when ordered through DoorDash. The restaurants are also upset that DoorDash is using the names, logos and menus of their companies, usually without receiving their permission.

Both DoorDash and In-N-Out have made respective statements on the matter.

A spokesperson for DoorDash said, “DoorDash uses its innovative logistics technology to deliver the very best food and products in neighborhoods across the country. While we have various relationships with different merchants, we are proud to help people get their favorite food delivered directly to their door."

In-N-Out made its own statement, saying, “"DoorDash is using our food and trademarks in a way that implies we have some kind of partnership or agreement with them, when that is not the case. We have asked DoorDash several times to stop using our trademarks and to stop selling our food. Unfortunately, they have continued to prominently use our trademarks and serve our food to customers who believe that we are responsible for their delivery. Prior to filing the lawsuit, we tried contacting them several more times but they never responded to our phone calls or letters."

Needless to say, the court’s decision will have a major impact on the future of these delivery companies.

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