In an attempt to obtain a prize for our First Annual Grillin Fools Backyard BBQ Bash – Putting the Backyard back into BBQ – I contacted a certain grill manufacturer that I was very fond of. A friend of a friend worked there and gave me an email address to the executive assistant to the president of the grill company. It was a shot in the dark, but I figured that the event is for a good cause as half the proceeds will be going to charity, and hoped they could help us raise more money. At the time I sent the email I wasn’t sure which charity but we have since settled on splitting the donation between the Wounded Warrior Project and the Fisher House. I was hoping that the grill company would see what big fans we were and send us something to help bolster the event. This is the email I sent:
<executive assistant’s first name>,
A friend of mine has a friend who works for your company. He gave me your email address as someone I should contact about an event myself and the other two Grillin Fools, owners of GrillinFools.com, are having on October 9th in St. Louis. The event is a true backyard BBQ contest in that no custom rigs are allowed. Only mass market grills under $500. If the pros want to attend they have to use the grills of us joes. We’re trying to remove the intimidation factor that keeps so many from participating in competition BBQ and get back to what BBQ is all about – people hanging out by the pit, sharing tips, enjoying the weather and each others company.
The Grillin Fools are are very socially conscious and are giving half the proceeds to a charity that has yet to be determined. Susan G Kolman, Wounded Warriors, MS society, and St. Baldrick’s are at the top of our list as well as a local charity called the St. Patrick’s Center that teaches homeless people job skills to help get them find employment and get off the street. We are about to launch an apparel line and will be donating 10% of everything we make charity as well. We can’t justify all that we have been blessed with without giving some back to help others. I live by that in my personal life and will continue to do so in this hobby of mine that is morphing into something bigger in front of my eyes as the website continues to grow.
So why am I telling you about all of this? We were hoping that Weber would be willing to donate something for the grand prize for our Backyard BBQ Bash. We plan on having three categories, appetizer, the St. Louis classic the pork steak, and ribs as well as a Grand Pit Master for best combined score for all three. This is our first competition and right now we can only afford trophies for the categories and the Grand Pit Master. We thought a grill from Weber would be a great prize for the competition.
If this is not something you can do, I completely understand. You must get thousands of requests like this. I thought I would give it a shot and also tell you that we’re big fans. We have featured one of my two Weber Kettles on the site many times in one shape or another in the process of grilling the basics like ribs, chicken, and steaks on them as well as the things like lettuce, bison, meatloaf, lobster, and potatoes. My blue One Touch Gold is my go to grill. The only time I pull out my Char Griller Smoker Pro is when I need the extra space. I would buy that new 26 inch Kettle that I have been salivating over but with a new son less than 2 weeks old at home, my wife would strangle me if I brought home another grill. We are not exclusive to Weber, as my dad is a Charbroil guy and my cousin is a Big Green Egg head, but Weber has been featured more than either of them as I am the founder of the website and use it more than any of my other grills. Click here to see a list all the things I have done on the site using your grills.
Thank you for your time and your wonderful products.
The Original Grillin Fool
The response I got was this:
Dear Mr. Thomas:
Your recent email inquiry has been forwarded to my attention for response. First, I would like to thank you for taking the time to contact us with respect to the history surrounding GrillinFools.com. Clearly, you and your partners have a true passion for grilling and a gift for sharing that passion with others.
However, with respect to your website we have a few concerns. First, your use of our trademarks, namely “Weber” and “Weber Kettle” in your “key words” banner on the left side of your home page is misleading. Clicking on these trademarks takes one to a random recipe that you are promoting, rather than anything “Weber” or “Weber Kettle.” Not only is this an unauthorized use of our federally registered trademarks, it is very confusing to any visitor to your site who clicks on these key words to gain information on Weber. Please remove our trademarks from your site, and confirm that you have done so.
Lastly, with respect to your request for a donation, you are correct that we receive “thousands of these.” In addition, Weber has established business relationships with third parties, which prevent us from associating with certain organizations and products. Even when we are able to clear any conflicts, a simple grill donation has often turned into false marketing claims, which results in Weber being promoted, without our knowledge, as being a sponsor, associated with or endorsing a particular contest. It is for all of these reasons that we also choose to make our donations and charitable partnerships quietly without any advertising.
We truly appreciate your loyalty to our brand and to our Company. However, as stated above, we need to caution you against how our trademarks are used. Weber is not just the name of our Company, it is a federally registered trademark for a huge variety of goods and services. As such, we regulate and protect its use at all costs.
We thank you for respecting our rights and wish you and your partners the best of luck with your internet and barbecue ventures.
Vice President of Business & Legal Affairs
Weber-Stephen Products Co.
That’s right. I got your garden variety cease and desist letter. So after years of being a loyal fan, supporter and frequent encourager to buy products from grill manufacturer that shall not be named, I was told not to use their name on this website. The reason I am posting and linking to this is that I felt that any Grillin Fool who checks this site should know why I had to go back and remove or change certain words.
Some will call this sour grapes on my part because I didn’t get a donation. That’s not it at all. I knew getting a donation was a long shot but thought the cause was worth the effort to take a few minutes to fire off an email. I also understand they have an obligation to protect their trademark but it still doesn’t feel good to be told to remove them from the website when we were essentially promoting their products free of charge for the last two years formally and informally for years before that. There is no better testimonial advertising for a grill than what we do here at GrillinFools.com in making great stuff on those grills. To help convey how I feel, I will let someone else sum it up. an iFriend explained it better than I can:
It has got to be chapping your hide and I feel for you GrillinFool. I’ve read you hyping their products and recommending them to new comers asking for suggestions over the past few years. Almost like a good friend just told you to pound salt!
If grill manufacturer that shall not be named does not want us promoting their products we will comply fully and completely and no longer promote them in any way. There are plenty of other manufacturers out there that would love the free publicity we provide. I’m not going to tell you not to buy their products. That’s up to you do decide based on your grilling needs, budget, available options, etc., but I will no longer add any further content to this site using their grills and risk raising the ire of their legal department because I used their product to make something on the grill and documented the process to help others have the same success. I wish them the best of luck in their future endeavors…
The Original Grillin’ Fool