Mexi Restaurant Uses ¡Ask a Mexican! Logo for Ad in Dana Point Paper, No One Asks for Permission

The few times I bother with Dana Point, I pick up a copy of the Dana Point Times. It works–better than the Orange County Register's community rags, but it ain't no Fullerton Observer. But I haven't visited in months, so imagine my surprise when a reader forwarded me an early November copy of the paper. In it was an ad for a Mexican restaurant using the logo for my ¡Ask a Mexican! column.

Not the first time it's happened–I've seen unauthorized uses of the logo on phone cards, club promotions, beer billboards, and other restaurants. I guess the drawing by Mark Dancey is so damn spot-on in creating an Eternal Mexican that people assume it's been around forever, just like the illustration of Alfred E. Neuman existed in various ads before MAD took it for themselves. But those thieving businesses were mostly out of the state; did this Mexican restaurant (which I won't name but looks like the type of place a Javier's fan would enjoy) and the Dana Point Times really think they'd get away with using my column's logo and making money off of it without me eventually finding out and throwing barbs back at them? Especially considering it's a Mexican restaurant?

But it gets worse.

The other companies used my logo but once; the Dana Point Times allowed the restaurant to use the AAM logo on their ad for over a month, including this week's issue. If we were a lesser company like, say, Disney, we'd take the Times to court for unauthorized use of our logo, especially since the Times is our competitor that takes away valuable ads from our pages and used us to fatten their wallets. But we're better than that–instead, Jonathan Volzke, editor of their sister paper, the excellent Capistrano Dispatch, will take me to lunch to make up for his company's sin. If it's on him, Pedro's Tacos across the street from Mission San Juan Capistrano; if it's on his bosses, Stonehill Tavern.

Moral of the story? If you're a business looking to make money, DO NOT USE ASK A MEXICAN'S LOGO UNLESS YOU CLEAR IT BY ME, ESPECIALLY IF YOU'RE A COMPETITOR. My readers have the eyes of an eagle for these things, and I, the tolerance of a Know Nothing…

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