In another episode of our regularly scheduled program about Miami-Dade government -- titled Hey, Miami, What the F**k? -- Burger Beast blogger and all-around hamburger fan Sef Gonzalez was sent a "cease and desist" email yesterday from Assistant County Attorney Thomas W. Logue.
In the email (What? Miami-Dade can't afford to send these things via snail mail anymore?), Logue states, "County officials have discovered that your business is illegally using the County Sled Trademark in your advertisements and T-shirt sales."
First of all, let's compare the logos side by side:
What in hell is Miami-Dade doing with a "sled" for a logo? It's Miami! Shouldn't it have a palm tree?
Doesn't the county have anything better to do than go after bloggers who like burgers? Let's face it -- Sef ain't getting rich on his advertising and T-shirt sales. In fact, I wonder how he affords all of those burgers, because he's not raking in the big bucks.
You know who's making money, by the way? Thomas Logue, the Miami-Dade assistant county attorney who sent this whacked email.
According to the website the Watchdog Data Sleuth, Logue made about $252,178 in 2008.
According to payscale.com, a blogger makes $18,000 to $33,000 a year (yup, that's about right). Throw in a few free burgers here and there and you still have someone who will forever be driving a Kia instead of a BMW.
Gonzalez spoke to me yesterday evening. He said he won't hire an attorney because he doesn't want to get in some huge, costly battle with the county. Oh, and the big T-shirt-selling enterprise that the county is so concerned about? Gonzalez ordered 50 tees to sell. If he makes ten bucks profit on each one, that's a measly $500 -- or about 60 burgers to feed the Beast.
We're all aware of how the food trucks are getting jerked around, but at least they're small-business owners out to make a profit. Gonzalez's Burger Beast blog is done out of love for (and a little craziness about) the Miami food scene. Who'll the county try to shake down next -- the Girl Scouts? Some little kid's lemonade stand?
Gonzalez has a clear sense of humor, as seen in his Burger Beast logo, a play on Jurassic Park. Instead of a T-Rex, there's a chubby guy eating a hamburger. If Spielberg didn't go after him, why does Miami-Dade have a beef?
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The only crime Burger Beast committed was riffing on a logo that's generic and ugly.
Read the entire email (and feel free to get really angry):
From: Logue, Thomas (CAO) LOGUE@miamidade.gov
Date: Thu, May 19, 2011 at 11:04 AM
Subject: Illegal Use of Miami-Dade County "Sled" Logo -- "Miami Food Trucks"
Cc: "Guemes, Frank (GIC)" FG1@miamidade.gov
County officials have discovered that your business is illegally using the County Sled Trademark in your advertisements and T-Shirt sales. They have referred this matter to this office to stop your illegal infringement.
Miami-Dade County created and owns this mark. It has registered this Mark with the Florida Department of State. It has continually used it for decades. For these reason, Miami-Dade County has an intellectual property right in this Mark.
The Mark is associated in the minds of the public with the government of Miami-Dade County. Your illegal use is so similar to the County's Mark that it will confuse the public into thinking the County government is involved in the ownership, management, or operations of your business or has adopted or endorsed your product, when the County government has taken no such official action.
Your use of this Mark constitutes a violation of the law that subjects you to a lawsuit for an injunction, actual damages (which can be calculated based upon the value of your illegal use to your business as well as damage to the County), statutory damages set at the discretion of the Court, and attorney's fees. See, e.g., section 495.141, Fla. Stat.
You are directed, within 7 days from receipt of this letter, to (1) stop your illegal use of this Mark; and (2) confirm in writing with this office that you have agreed to stop all such illegal use. Unless we receive the letter in this timeframe, we will proceed to take the legal steps necessary to protect the County's position.
I would appreciate it if you or your attorney would call me at your earliest convenience.
Thomas W. Logue
Assistant County Attorney
111 N.W. 1st Street
Miami, Fl 33128
Direct Dial - 305-375-5067
Legal Assistant - Silvia Armenteros- 305-375-3925