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Merck Threatens Merck With Legal Action Over Facebook URL

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the who-what-when-where dept.

Facebook 115

angry tapir writes with an excerpt from a Techworld article: "Germany's Merck KGaA has threatened legal action after it said it lost its Facebook page apparently to rival Merck & Co. in the U.S., though it has yet to identify defendants in the case. In a filing before the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Merck said it intends to initiate an action based on the apparent takeover of its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/merck by its similarly-named but unrelated competitor, Merck & Co."

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115 comments

Not unrelated (5, Informative)

leathered (780018) | more than 2 years ago | (#38196568)

Merck was a single German company prior to WWI, their North American assets were seized by the US government in 1917 and is now Merck & Co. What remained in Germany is now Merck KGaA.

Re:Not unrelated (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38196606)

So the US liberated them?

Re:Not unrelated (5, Funny)

AgNO3 (878843) | more than 2 years ago | (#38196678)

Yes the US liberated them much like the peaceful liberation of Tibet by China

Re:Not unrelated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38198606)

Yeah, well, if the Kaiser wanted his Mercks unsullied he shouldn't have tried to eat France.

So there.

Re:Not unrelated (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38201778)

So not a fair comparison. Tibet didn't attempt world domination. Twice. Plus, WWI was pretty much the first time chemical weapons were used in a big way in a large war. Forcefully adopting groups like that was pretty normal in those days under those situations. Besides, unlike Tibet, Merck & Co is doing pretty darn well.

In any case, according to Merck & Co, it wasn't the actual page but a "vanity URL" and that the mix-up is an administrative error on Facebook's part. I wouldn't take them at their word exactly but another article I read about it (on the BBC site I think) said that the action is against Facebook so it might be true rather than Merck & Co specifically trying to mess with the other Merck. So yeah, title is kind of inaccurate but who ever let facts get in the way of a good headline?

Re:Not unrelated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38203992)

The Germans didn't attempt world domination either. They were trying to liberate Europe from usury. Kind of like Occupiers with testicles.

Re:Not unrelated (1)

Synerg1y (2169962) | more than 2 years ago | (#38196688)

Only if they were buddhism believers at the time with beliefs about the frugality of possessions.

Re:Not unrelated (1)

Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) | more than 2 years ago | (#38196702)

So Trademark law isn't designed to take World War I into account?

Ya know, it was kind of a big deal.

Patents were affected by WW1 also (4, Interesting)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 2 years ago | (#38196912)

So Trademark law isn't designed to take World War I into account? Ya know, it was kind of a big deal.

Neither is patent law. Bayer lost aspirin. The US Army stopped paying royalties to Mauser over the "infringing" M1903 Springfield rifle.

Re:Patents were affected by WW1 also (1)

frosty_tsm (933163) | more than 2 years ago | (#38197024)

So Trademark law isn't designed to take World War I into account? Ya know, it was kind of a big deal.

Neither is patent law. Bayer lost aspirin. The US Army stopped paying royalties to Mauser over the "infringing" M1903 Springfield rifle.

I recall Mauser had their patent-enforcers go and "confiscate" the offending knock-offs. I don't think that went very well.

I guess it all depends on what you pirate.

Re:Patents were affected by WW1 also (5, Insightful)

sortius_nod (1080919) | more than 2 years ago | (#38197232)

It's not what you pirate, but who sanctions the piracy.

Re:Patents were affected by WW1 also (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38197586)

It's not what you pirate, but who sanctions the piracy.

This must be the first ever occurrence on the internet where the use of the word "pirating" for "IP infringement" is apt.

(and yeah I know that it is lazy to use "IP" for all kinds of copyrights, patents, etc...)

Re:Patents were affected by WW1 also (1)

ppanon (16583) | more than 2 years ago | (#38199668)

So you're saying they weren't pirates so much as privateers with Letters of Marque. I'll have to remember that.

Re:Patents were affected by WW1 also (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 2 years ago | (#38200974)

Or when you pirate. Like Addison charging people to see copies of Georges Méliès "A trip to the moon".

Re:Patents were affected by WW1 also (1)

Gideon Wells (1412675) | more than 2 years ago | (#38198308)

Reminds me about accusations that part of the UAV software was either pirated or incorrectly used open source. Looks like this is nothing new.

Re:Not unrelated (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 2 years ago | (#38197036)

So Trademark law isn't designed to take World War I into account?

Ya know, it was kind of a big deal.

It would be more accurate to say that the WWI seizures of intangible personal property assets didn't take the internet into account.

Which, you know, isn't all that surprising.

Re:Not unrelated (2, Interesting)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 2 years ago | (#38196706)

In other words, Facebook being on American soil, this was just a delayed seizure of North American assets?

Re:Not unrelated (4, Informative)

chrb (1083577) | more than 2 years ago | (#38196770)

American soil? Facebook's international HQ is in Dublin. [facebook.com] That makes its international operations subject to E.U. law.

Re:Not unrelated (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38196826)

Not quite. That may be their "international HQ" (i.e., their base for international operations), but in terms of the company overall, according to your link, "Facebook is a privately-held company and is headquartered in Palo Alto, Calif."

Re:Not unrelated (2)

timeOday (582209) | more than 2 years ago | (#38197268)

Wait, are we talking about the common-senses truth here, or the open lies [bloomberg.com] companies use to evade (oops, "avoid") taxes?

Google, the owner of the world's most popular search engine, uses a strategy that has gained favor among such companies as Facebook Inc. and Microsoft Corp. The method takes advantage of Irish tax law to legally shuttle profits into and out of subsidiaries there, largely escaping the country's 12.5 percent income tax.

Re:Not unrelated (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 2 years ago | (#38197332)

Having a subsidiary in Ireland does not make the entire company Irish.

Re:Not unrelated (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38196722)

Any particular reason the US didn't give it back after the war or is this just one of those winner takes all type things?

Re:Not unrelated (1)

danomac (1032160) | more than 2 years ago | (#38196738)

Here I was thinking they were trying to sue themselves out of business, kind of like a race to the bottom. How disappointing to find out they're separate entities.

Re:Not unrelated (1, Funny)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 2 years ago | (#38196780)

I'm sure the American lawyers will say.

They already have a name. No one objects to them making a KGaA facebook page.

In fact, we even registered the KGaA.xxx domain name just so that we could give it to them, not that they even appreciated our gift -- those ungrateful Germans.

Kommanditgesellschaft auf Aktien (2)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#38196848)

KGaA is German for a specific kind of "limited partnership" [wikipedia.org] . It'd be like saying a limited liability company can use "LLC" as its name.

Re:Not unrelated (2)

Guppy (12314) | more than 2 years ago | (#38196992)

Huh. Confused me a bit, as I previously thought the German side decided to rename themselves as EMD (for Emanuel Merck Darmstadt). Didn't realize the new name only applied when they're operating in the U.S.

Many of us who've worked in laboratories are quite familar with EMD, they're a major supplier of chemicals to the pharmaceutical industry (and other chemical industries). I'll be there are bottles of stuff labeled EMD in some of Merck's (U.S.) facilities right now.

Light on info (4, Informative)

bryan1945 (301828) | more than 2 years ago | (#38196744)

Merck Germany says it had "an agreement" with Facebook for the name. Later Merck America was running the page. No where in TFA does it says Merck G is suing Merck A, only Facebook. Once again TFS screws up the headline on TFA.

Re:Light on info (3, Informative)

msauve (701917) | more than 2 years ago | (#38196940)

Merck Germany filed in NY so it could do discovery and find out who moved their cheese. It's not clear at this point if the FB page was turned over to Merck US by FB, or by someone else (Merck Germany employee or contractor) who had administrative privileges.

But, just as FB support multiple "John Smith" pages, there are multiple Merck pages. Merck Germany [facebook.com] still has one, with posts going back more than a year, but which was pretty inactive. The US Merck [facebook.com] has it's own page. So, maybe the Germans are just clueless or confused. Or, maybe it's because the simple link - http://www.facebook.com/Merck [facebook.com] is linked to the US one (the full URI to the US one permanently redirects to the simple one), but it used to be linked to the German one. It seems to me that's something FB would have done - I doubt a user can control that. And, FB may have done that simply to point to the more active and popular "Merck." The US site has had 30 posts since September, the German one, 19 in a year and a half.

This just in... (4, Informative)

msauve (701917) | more than 2 years ago | (#38196990)

"Facebook Inc said on Monday that it made a mistake in letting Merck & Co take over a page on the social networking website from its German rival Merck KGaA." - IBTimes [ibtimes.com]

Re:This just in... (2)

Ichijo (607641) | more than 2 years ago | (#38197146)

Easy solution: auction the name every year for a 1-year license. Facebook wins, the auction winner wins, everybody wins!

Re:This just in... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38199326)

If your definition of "everybody" is "two out of three (or more)."

Re:This just in... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38197476)

"Facebook Inc said on Monday that it made a mistake in letting Merck & Co take over a page on the social networking website from its German rival Merck KGaA." - IBTimes [ibtimes.com]

Notice it also says:
Facebook plans to make the URL www.facebook.com/merck unavailable for use until both Mercks agree which company may use it. The companies may request other URLs and maintain presences on Facebook.
Sounds more like they did want to take it away.

Re:This just in... (1)

gsslay (807818) | more than 2 years ago | (#38200694)

This just illustrates the folly of all the companies co-operating in the creation of a walled-garden internet controlled by a single company, who often has no understanding or care about individual company's needs or desires. The more companies jump on board the idea of Facebook being their primary internet presence, (like many don't put their URL on adverts, they put their Facebook page) the more they are handing over to Facebook key control of their business.

This is the kind of business model that companies like Compuserve and AOL used to be based on in the 90s, and people couldn't wait to vacate them. Nothing has changed, Facebook has just succeeded in sugar-coating the pill better so that no-one's complaining yet.

Re:Light on info (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38201218)

FYI when a Facebook fan page gets 25 likes, they get the ability to create their own shortened facebook URL. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Merck/267379809941906 with 25 likes could shorten to http://www.facebook.com/Merck for example.

I wonder if someone in Germany changed their shortened URL off of Merck to something like MerckKGaA and the US Merck swooped in and took the freshly vacant Merck URL.

Or like you said, Merck US might have said something to Facebook and Facebook assumed MerckKGaA wasn't a real company or something so gave it to Merck US.

Re:Light on info (1)

chrismcb (983081) | more than 2 years ago | (#38199496)

No where in TFA does it says Merck G is suing Merck A, only Facebook. Once again TFS screws up the headline on TFA.

No where in TFA does it says Merck KGaA is suing Facebook.

Re:Light on info (0)

oPless (63249) | more than 2 years ago | (#38200734)

No where in TFA does it says Merck G is suing Merck A, only Facebook. Once again TFS screws up the headline on TFA.

No where in TFA does it says Merck KGaA is suing Facebook.

Actually reading TFA?

You must be new here.

I know my opinion won't be popular here... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38201774)

As I know most here are hoping Merck wins this case.

I,however, hope Merck wins this case.

I'm with Merck on this (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38196804)

I hope they take Merck to the cleaners while defending their IP.

Companies suing companies? But, but........ (0)

companydroid (2498456) | more than 2 years ago | (#38196824)

I thought all lawsuits in this litigious society of ours was due to little old ladies spilling coffee on themselves at McDonalds? Dear God say it isn't so!

Re:Companies suing companies? But, but........ (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38196856)

But didn't you know corporations are people too.

Re:Companies suing companies? But, but........ (1)

Plunky (929104) | more than 2 years ago | (#38200088)

Oh, that must be why they want to have a presence on facebook, a social networking site.. Gee, can't wait to friend such a corporation, do you think it will come to my birthday party?

Re:Companies suing companies? But, but........ (1)

Asic Eng (193332) | more than 2 years ago | (#38201954)

Well I hope they only let companies join which are at least 14 years old.

Re:Companies suing companies? But, but........ (4, Informative)

dougmc (70836) | more than 2 years ago | (#38197020)

For the record, the "McDonalds hot coffee" thing was NOT an example of lawsuit abuse, even though it's commonly trotted out as an example of it.

It's more an example of "McDonalds screwed up, then refused to do anything to make it right, then was sued and lost".

More on it can be found here [lectlaw.com] and if you think she wasn't that badly hurt, check out the picture of the burns here [pflanz.me] (warning: not safe for lunch).

Re:Companies suing companies? But, but........ (1, Flamebait)

msauve (701917) | more than 2 years ago | (#38197148)

Coffee is often made with boiling water, so 185F coffee isn't unreasonable or something which should be unexpected. McDonald's shouldn't have to warn people of that, nor should they be held responsible if people spill it on themselves.

Your link, to a self-serving article by the "Consumer Attorneys of California," does nothing to support your claim that this was anything other than an unreasonable abuse of the legal process.

Re:Companies suing companies? But, but........ (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38197292)

> Coffee is often made with boiling water

Coffee should *never" be made with boiling water as that scalds the beans.

Re:Companies suing companies? But, but........ (3, Insightful)

msauve (701917) | more than 2 years ago | (#38197430)

Nonetheless, it often is [wikipedia.org] . The same article goes on to say "About 200 degrees Fahrenheit is the optimal temperature to make coffee," and the National Coffee Association [ncausa.org] agrees, and goes on to say that "If it will be a few minutes before it will be served, the temperature should be maintained at 180 - 185 degrees Fahrenheit."

So the point stands - 185 degrees shouldn't be an unexpected serving temperature.

Re:Companies suing companies? But, but........ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38197682)

Lol, your temperature quote is from the description of "Cowboy coffee", that explains all.

Re:Companies suing companies? But, but........ (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#38202970)

The same article goes on to say "About 200 degrees Fahrenheit is the optimal temperature to make coffee," and the National Coffee Association [ncausa.org] agrees

Ah, its talking about the american version, not a real espresso made by forcing boiling water through the grounds. It means ideal if you want to avoid the real coffee favour.

Re:Companies suing companies? But, but........ (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38197314)

French fries are made with boiling oil, but I would expect the final product to be served at a temperature that's safe to eat.

Much like I'd expect coffee to be served at a temperature that's safe to drink.

Re:Companies suing companies? But, but........ (5, Informative)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 2 years ago | (#38197412)

185F is reasonable for the temperature the coffee is prepared at, not the temperature at which it is served. It should be served closer to 160F. McDonald's was overheating it so that it would stay hot longer (allowing them to serve it for a longer period, and thus make fewer pots over the day).

Furthermore, the woman only asked for $20k, barely enough to cover her medical expenses and lost work hours. She wasn't being greedy at all. It was McDonald's choice to risk a jury trial, and they paid for it. Losing a jury trial should be more expensive than settling, otherwise corporations have no incentive to ever settle with us comparatively short-lived humans.

Re:Companies suing companies? But, but........ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38197728)

I take a hammer and accidentally hit my thumb and break it. Does Craftsman owe me the money for the medical expense since their hammer was used?

What you do with coffee once you purchase it is your business and yours alone. If you do not have a cup holder and decide to put it between your legs, that is the risk you assumed, not McDonalds.

Despite all the legality of the case to make McDonalds at fault, the simple truth is someone took something very hot and put it in their crotch. Had they had a cup holder there would not have been a case. Hot is typically defined as significantly higher than warm. Skin starts burning at 130F degrees. Even if coffee was served at 160F degrees, like the case states, it is still well over the 130F degrees temperature. So regardless, she was going to get burned no matter what.

Instead of assuming responsibility for her own actions, she made McDonalds the responsibility of her action and setting a precedence for future tort related claims.

Re:Companies suing companies? But, but........ (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38198100)

what's it like being a retard?

Re:Companies suing companies? But, but........ (1)

catmistake (814204) | more than 2 years ago | (#38198184)

I take a hammer and accidentally hit my thumb and break it. Does Craftsman owe me the money for the medical expense since their hammer was used?

Absolutely, YES: if and only if you incurred the injury on Craftsman's property.

Re:Companies suing companies? But, but........ (1)

deniable (76198) | more than 2 years ago | (#38200376)

Yes, if Craftsman has already settled ~700 claims for damage and knows all about this situation.

Re:Companies suing companies? But, but........ (4, Interesting)

Solandri (704621) | more than 2 years ago | (#38199772)

185F is reasonable for the temperature the coffee is prepared at, not the temperature at which it is served.

Bunn (maker of most of the commercial coffee brewing machines in the U.S.) recommends the coffee be held at 175-185F [slashdot.org] . This is the temperature when it comes out of the serving machine (it is held in the serving machine prior), and the temperature setting which was at issue in the lawsuit. It is the same temperature used by restaurants nationwide, including Starbucks.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit surveyed coffee temperatures at other restaurants nearby, and stated "Other establishments sell coffee at substantially lower temperatures." Note the wording. They didn't give the average temp, nor a range of temps. They simply stated that some restaurants sold their coffee at a much lower temperature. If they had found that McDonalds coffee was unusually hot, they would have stated something more like "most establishments sell coffee at substantially lower temperatures." That they didn't indicates it's just deceptive wording used to take a survey which didn't support their case, and made it appear as if it did.

McDonald's was overheating it so that it would stay hot longer (allowing them to serve it for a longer period, and thus make fewer pots over the day).

McDonalds set the temperature that high because people complained about it getting too cold by the time they got home or to work. After the lawsuit they tried lowering the temperature, but too many people complained and they raised it again. Today, McDonalds follows Bunn's 175-185 F recommendation. The lawsuit changed nothing about how coffee is served.

And how do you figure hotter coffee leads to brewing fewer pots each day? These machines are temperature regulated. If you set it at 185F, it will keep the coffee at 185F all day. If you set it at 165F, it'll keep the coffee at 165F all day. You don't brew it, use it until it cools, then throw the rest out once it gets too cool. If anything, hotter coffee would lead to brewing more coffee, as the water and aromatics will evaporate more quickly at higher temperature.

If you take the number of burns reported from spilled McDonalds coffee, and divide it by the number of cups of coffee McDonalds sold in the same time period of those spills, you'll arrive at an accident rate for McDonalds coffee. If you then compare that accident rate to other accident rates, you discover a funny thing. If you drive 5 miles round trip to buy your McDonalds coffee, you are actually more likely to die in an auto accident buying your cup of coffee, than you are to be burned from spilling it on yourself.

Re:Companies suing companies? But, but........ (1, Troll)

catmistake (814204) | more than 2 years ago | (#38198122)

an unreasonable abuse of the legal process.

The temperature of the coffee is what I would call a red herring. It matters not what temperature the coffee was served at... what matters is where the victim was injured. If she tripped on her own shoelaces in the restaurant, and was injured in a fall, McDonald's is culpable. If the temp of the coffee was only 108F, and she incurred her injury on the premises (which she did), McDonald's is culpable for damages. The facts of the actual case are clear that she sustained a rather bad injury on McDonald's premises. It matters not whether McDonald's was negligent afa coffee temperature. What matters is that she was severly injured on McDonald's property with McDonald's product, irregardless of what that product was. Imagine a kid in Toy r Us... Mom buys him a toy which he promptly chokes to death on in Toys r us. Toys R Us is absolutely culpable and any case brought against them is most certainly valid and necessarily non-frivolous. Same is true of the McDonald's coffee case.

Re:Companies suing companies? But, but........ (3, Interesting)

cdecoro (882384) | more than 2 years ago | (#38198268)

Sorry, but that simply isn't the state of the law -- certainly not in America, at least. The general theory for slip-and-fall cases is one of negligence: did the defendant fail to meet the standard of behavior that a reasonable person in similar circumstances would take, and if so, did that conduct cause the plaintiff's injury. If not, no liability.

The Hot Coffee case operated on a more plaintiff-friendly theory: in product-liability cases, liability is "strict." That is, courts will not ask whether the standard of care was negligent, only whether the product was defective, and did that defect cause the injury. The plaintiff there argued that coffee served at 185F was per se "defective," thus it didn't matter whether McDonald's was otherwise negligent. This is arguably the most questionable part about that lawsuit, since many people (including other courts) disagree with that premise, and instead argue that coffee *should* be served that hot. See McMahon v. Bunn-O-Matic Corp., 150 F.3d 651 (7th Cir. 1997):

"The smell (and therefore the taste) of coffee depends heavily on the oils containing aromatic compounds that are dissolved out of the beans during the brewing process. Brewing temperature should be close to 200 F [93 C] to dissolve them effectively, but without causing the premature breakdown of these delicate molecules. Coffee smells and tastes best when these aromatic compounds evaporate from the surface of the coffee as it is being drunk. Compounds vital to flavor have boiling points in the range of 150–160 F [66–71 C], and the beverage therefore tastes best when it is this hot and the aromatics vaporize as it is being drunk. For coffee to be 150 F when imbibed, it must be hotter in the pot. Pouring a liquid increases its surface area and cools it; more heat is lost by contact with the cooler container; if the consumer adds cream and sugar (plus a metal spoon to stir them) the liquid's temperature falls again. If the consumer carries the container out for later consumption, the beverage cools still further."

But one way or the other, causation is absolutely required. If you slip on your own shoelaces at McDonalds, and there is no link whatsoever to McDonald's conduct, you're necessarily out of luck.

Re:Companies suing companies? But, but........ (1, Informative)

catmistake (814204) | more than 2 years ago | (#38198364)

If you're looking for negligence, it is readily apparent in that case. McDonald's was negligent in not warning the customer that the coffee was dangerously hot. Also, McDonald's was negligent in failing to provide a container that was void of defect... (if you remember the old coffee cups at McDonald's, a mild squeeze, just ever so slightly more pressure than is need to lift it, and the top would pop off, and the coffee would spill all over your hand, burning you). Again, the TEMPERATURE OF THE COFFEE DOESN'T MATTER, it is a red herring. Had the coffee been AS HOT AS THE SUN, as long as they had properly notified customers that it was hot with posted warnings, and provided a defect-free container, then McDonald's MIGHT have had a chance. Unfortunately for McDonald's, they DID NOT have any warnings, and their coffee cups were notoriously defective. The case was valid, and justice was served.

Re:Companies suing companies? But, but........ (2, Insightful)

sosume (680416) | more than 2 years ago | (#38200114)

And thanks to this logic, consumers all over the world are now regarded as little children. Warnings are placed everywhere. You are not allowed any initiative anymore, all in fear of a lawsuit. So much money going to waste. And all that because some prick wanted to extort McDonalds.

Re:Companies suing companies? But, but........ (2)

deniable (76198) | more than 2 years ago | (#38200380)

Actually, the 700 claims prior to this one indicate that McDonalds knew about and should have dealt with it.

Re:Companies suing companies? But, but........ (1)

Compaqt (1758360) | more than 2 years ago | (#38201314)

Warning: Coffee is hot.

Warning: Ice cream is cold.

Warning: Water is wet. (Oops, EU says you can't say that.)

Re:Companies suing companies? But, but........ (2)

dougmc (70836) | more than 2 years ago | (#38204498)

(Oops, EU says you can't say that.)

No, as I understand it, you can't claim that water can prevent dehydration. I don't think they stop you from saying that it's wet. (yet?)

Re:Companies suing companies? But, but........ (1)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 2 years ago | (#38202978)

The old lady asking for $20,000 to cover the medical bills for her nasty burns was extorting?

Um, why a warning? (1)

bradley13 (1118935) | more than 2 years ago | (#38200340)

Why is a warning necessary? Is it not common knowledge that coffee is hot?

This is the kind of thinking that leads to warning labels like "do not set ladder in mud", "do not use hairdryer while bathing" and similar nonsense. There should be a standard of reasonableness - this has gone lost. Now we have this wonderful feedback cycle going: The courts allow frankly frivolous lawsuits to proceed, people play courts like a lottery, so whenever something bad happens people look around for deep pockets to sue, lawyers find this a great way to make money, later become judges, and allow more frivolous lawsuits through the system...

Perhaps the McDonald's coffee case was justified - there has been so much hype that it's hard to tell. However, the presence of (unnecessary) warning labels would almost certainly not have helped them.

Re:Companies suing companies? But, but........ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38198372)

You didn't even read that link, did you? Here is the relevant part:

McDonalds also said during discovery that, based on a consultants advice, it held its coffee at between 180 and 190 degrees fahrenheit to maintain optimum taste. He admitted that he had not evaluated the safety ramifications at this temperature. Other establishments sell coffee at substantially lower temperatures, and coffee served at home is generally 135 to 140 degrees.

Further, McDonalds' quality assurance manager testified that the company actively enforces a requirement that coffee be held in the pot at 185 degrees, plus or minus five degrees. He also testified that a burn hazard exists with any food substance served at 140 degrees or above, and that McDonalds coffee, at the temperature at which it was poured into styrofoam cups, was not fit for consumption because it would burn the mouth and throat. The quality assurance manager admitted that burns would occur, but testified that McDonalds had no intention of reducing the "holding temperature" of its coffee.

Plaintiffs' expert, a scholar in thermodynamics applied to human skin burns, testified that liquids, at 180 degrees, will cause a full thickness burn to human skin in two to seven seconds. Other testimony showed that as the temperature decreases toward 155 degrees, the extent of the burn relative to that temperature decreases exponentially. Thus, if Liebeck's spill had involved coffee at 155 degrees, the liquid would have cooled and given her time to avoid a serious burn.

Given the above info, it is beyond ridiculous to say that the grandparent post's link "does nothing to support" its claim. It is in fact extremely well-supported, and you can always go read the court documents if you have any remaining doubts. The judge and jury at the time heard all the evidence and apparently disagreed with you that the case was "an unreasonable abuse of the legal process".

It's just plain sad that after all these years there are still people who will jump to McDonalds' defense and refuse to listen to any real facts behind the case.

Re:Companies suing companies? But, but........ (1)

sosume (680416) | more than 2 years ago | (#38200128)

You must be a happy camper now that all coffee mugs have "Warning hot!" written on them. I cannot believe mankind survived so long without these warnings, they are essential to our existance.

Re:Companies suing companies? But, but........ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38198516)

If somebody is going to hand me a product that mames on contact, they better damn well hand it to me in a container that makes it hard to come into contact with!

If they hand me something that is intrinsically dangerous but has no safety features so I get so seriously injured that I need major surgery, the least they could do is pay my medical bills. If they refuse to pay the medical bills, they better expect to get sued.

dom

Re:Companies suing companies? But, but........ (1)

dougmc (70836) | more than 2 years ago | (#38199550)

Your link, to a self-serving article by the "Consumer Attorneys of California," does nothing to support your claim that this was anything other than an unreasonable abuse of the legal process.

I could link to the Hot Coffee Documentary [hotcoffeethemovie.com] , but of course since the incident is a large part of the documentary, I guess that's "self-serving" too and therefore is also to be dismissed out of hand. Unfortunately, being a video, it's a bit hard to cite as people can't quickly read it like they can an article.

Or the Wikipedia page [wikipedia.org] , though anybody can edit wikipedia, so it should be dismissed too, right? (To be fair, the wikipedia page doesn't really say that the lawsuit was or wasn't valid -- but it does give a good explanation of what lead up to it and why it turned out the way it did.)

Ultimately, most everything has bias. If you ignore things that are likely to have bias -- you'll be ignoring everything. The smart person can read things, even biased things, and still learn something.

Re:Companies suing companies? But, but........ (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | more than 2 years ago | (#38200816)

You are perfectly right and the moron who modded you flaimbait should be stopped from further modding.

180F is below breing temperature! It is a very reasonable temperature for coffee. If you carefully sip, with drawig in some air, you even can start drinking at this temperature. (This is 82.22C, coffee is usually brewed at 85C - 90C)

Re:Companies suing companies? But, but........ (0)

Kreigaffe (765218) | more than 2 years ago | (#38197296)

McDonalds did not screw up. Their coffee was not, and is not, served at a higher temperature than the coffee from practically any other establishment. The hottest coffee I've ever been served was from a Starbucks (primarily the reason they no longer get my business).

That old lady screwed up.

Even an idiot knows that you can't hold a soft styrofoam cup between your knees and expect it to not deform when you remove the rigid top. Or, if you do, you've gotta be REALLY DAMN CAREFUL to squeeze your knees together *just hard enough* to hold it in place but NOT so hard as to deform and/or destroy the cup.

Did she win? Yeah. Sure. Was it her fault? Fuck yes it was. Was the coffee really hot? Fuck yes it was, it was hot enough to cause serious burns -- but it's COFFEE, and the expectation of all reasonable people upon being served coffee is that it is most likely too hot to drink when first poured into a cup and CARE MUST BE TAKEN IN ITS HANDLING TO PREVENT INJURY.

Old lady bought a dangerous object and took no care in its handling. That's just flat-out on her.

Re:Companies suing companies? But, but........ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38197424)

McDonalds did not screw up. Their coffee was not, and is not, served at a higher temperature than the coffee from practically any other establishment. The hottest coffee I've ever been served was from a Starbucks (primarily the reason they no longer get my business).

So ignoring your useless anecdote, do you have any citations for your claims?

Re:Companies suing companies? But, but........ (1)

kermidge (2221646) | more than 2 years ago | (#38197512)

Yeah. She shoulda gotten a Darwin award.

I don't mean to dis her injury - bad burns do a lot more than just hurt like a sumbitch.

McDs in a neighborly fashion should've paid her bills, and the judge should've dismissed the case.

Instead, McDucks rolled over, the sueage floodgates opened, lawyers got an even worse rep, and judges and juries appeared even more clueless than usual.

Re:Companies suing companies? But, but........ (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38197858)

You left out crooked companies got a very nice PR story in the public conciousness for passing tort reform.

Cries for tort reform happen everyday using that little old lady as an example. and everyday someone has to post the pics and insert the words THIRD FUCKING DEGREE BURNS.

Believe me, even if mc D's has to put a label on a coffee cup and pay some little old lady and her lawyer, the meme of "frivilous lawsuits" in the public mind which is used to take away every american's right to sue for damages is worth a thousand of these lawsuits.

Re:Companies suing companies? But, but........ (1, Insightful)

lgw (121541) | more than 2 years ago | (#38197880)

Coffee is supposed to be served at a temperature that will cause only minor burns if spilled. McDonalds deliberately put theirs customers at risk of serious burns to save money.

You know, people often complain around here that "if corporations are people, why aren't they subject to criminal law". Well, that's what "gross negligence" is. Had McD's served their coffe at the more reasonable temp that most everyone else does, this would maybe have been ordinary negligence, and the lady would likely have gotten the $20k she sued for (because juries love to award money to little old adies). But instead they knowingly endangered their customers to make a buck, and this (unnecessarily serious injury) was the statistically predictable result.

Really high awards for gross negligence take the place of criminal law for corporations. When a corporation deliberately puts customers at risk because it seems cheaper, it's appropriate to respond with an award so high that it scares other corporations away from that way of thinking.

Re:Companies suing companies? But, but........ (2)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 2 years ago | (#38199086)

Coffee is supposed to be served at a temperature where it will taste good

FTFY. Of course, this being McDonald's, that's sort of a moot point...

Re:Companies suing companies? But, but........ (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38198068)

Well the judge and jury disagree with you, but what do they know hearing all of the evidence.

Re:Companies suing companies? But, but........ (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 2 years ago | (#38198116)

The hottest coffee I've ever been served was from a Starbucks (primarily the reason they no longer get my business).

Donald Trump is that you???

Re:Companies suing companies? But, but........ (2)

harryjohnston (1118069) | more than 2 years ago | (#38198352)

No reasonable person would expect coffee sold at a drive-through to be hot enough to cause serious burns, and no sensible person would knowingly buy such coffee. Liquids in cars are liable to spill now and then, no matter how much care you take.

By way of analogy, if you paved a footpath with broken glass, and someone fell down and seriously injured themselves, would it be their own fault for falling down or yours for using broken glass? After all, everybody knows that care must be taken to avoid falling down. (What they don't expect is for the consequences to be disproportionate.)

Re:Companies suing companies? But, but........ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38199344)

We're going to play a fun game. It's called "read one of the several links regarding this topic that were provided for your education before you open your idiot pie-hole again." Because you clearly don't know what the heck you're talking about.

Re:Companies suing companies? But, but........ (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | more than 2 years ago | (#38200796)

Well, I read over the articel you have linked and stumbel over this:

McDonalds also said during discovery that, based on a consultants advice, it held its coffee at between 180 and 190 degrees fahrenheit to maintain optimum taste. He admitted that he had not evaluated the safety ramifications at this temperature. Other establishments sell coffee at substantially lower temperatures, and coffee served at home is generally 135 to 140 degrees.

This is utter nonsense. Coffee with 140 degrees (Fahrenheit) is considered cold coffee in most of the world.
Even after feeling symphatic with the poor Lady who burned herself I can not help me. That McDonalds case is completely retarded. And only shows how retarded the US legal system is. Find a jury you can convince that X is bad. And you have your established case law.
WTF: she put the coffee cup between her knees to remove the lid. If a child tries to do that you slap it on the fingers.
None of the arguments in that case makes any sense from a european point of view.
Behaviour of the lady: their own fault.
Coffee: correct temperature
Burnings: likely due to inproper closing, or the coffee was very huge. When I spill a cup of hot coffee over my jeans the coffee is cold before it seriously can burn me. Yes, the skin will be red. But tomorrow you wont see it any more.

Sorry, that picture you link there must be fake or the reasons for the wounds are something different (in addition to a slight burn). Perhaps it is photo shopped. You need litters of boiling water/coffee to cause such a wound.

Re:Companies suing companies? But, but........ (1)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 2 years ago | (#38203124)

Just curious, where did you get your medical degree? Because clearly your internet opinion is better than those of the emergency room doctors that saw her just after she burned herself with the coffee.

Also, where did you get your statistics degree? I'm curious since your analysis of coffee serving temperature isn't backed up with a reference to a study, so I assume you completed the study yourself.

Oh, and where did you get your law degree? Since you don't think any of the arguments make sense, I assume you've read the reports that McDonald's had received 700 previous complaints about the coffee being too hot, making the claim that "He admitted that he had not evaluated the safety ramifications at this temperature" seem less like an accident and more like negligence.

Re:Companies suing companies? But, but........ (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | more than 2 years ago | (#38203328)

I wrote from my european stand of view.

I don't need a statistics or a degree to assert you that coffee here is served hotter than 80 Degrees Celsius (That was the 140 Fahrenheit IIRC).

After all coffee is usually made fresh per cup and if it is "filter coffee" which is prepared ahead it is also far above the temperature mentioend in this articles.

The typical brewing temperature is around 90 Degrees Celsius. You know, that you can read on wikipedia ... its the reccomended temperature to get the best "solution" from your coffee grains.

Regading law degree, wtf why I should I need a law degree? We all know that law in the USA works different than in the EU.

Thats why so many people joke about this case. Regarding my medical degree: sorry, did you look at the photo that guy has linked I answered to?

The wound there does simply not come from a 140 Fahrenheit water burn. The women on that photo has no skin but raw flesh in an huge area. The edges of the wound is strange coloured.

Do you really think I never in my life accidently poured some coffy over my hand? And? Did the skin make bubbles? Certainly not. So either that coffee was still nearly boiling then there would be a case perhaps or the coffee was just normal tempered and the lady was just stupid. Regardless how hot the coffee was, they way she treeted it is stupid. In Europe you had really trouble to make a case on this.

This: 'I assume you've read the reports that McDonald's had received 700 previous complaints about the coffee being too hot, making the claim that "He admitted that he had not evaluated the safety ramifications at this temperature" seem less like an accident and more like negligence.' is for an ordinary case, at least in germany and I would guess for the rest of EU, completely meaningless.

Is that really an URL? (1, Insightful)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 2 years ago | (#38197258)

While it is clearly not a FQDN, does an address in someone else's domain count as an URL? It's not like they really own it...

Re:Is that really an URL? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38197676)

How the flying fuck did this get modded up?

Re:Is that really an URL? (1)

similar_name (1164087) | more than 2 years ago | (#38198152)

Unless you pronounce URL like 'Earl' it is a URL. Similarly unless you pronounce FQDN like 'Fuck Done' it is an FQDN.

Re:Is that really an URL? (1)

deniable (76198) | more than 2 years ago | (#38200394)

The URL contains an FQDN. Maybe you should ask your question without trying to use the wrong abbreviations. It's not in their own domain, correct. I'm still stumped by companies needing to have Facebook pages. Why can't they just have a web site like everyone else?

Re:Is that really an URL? (1)

therealobsideus (1610557) | more than 2 years ago | (#38200402)

The future of customer service involves having a more personal relationship with your customers - part of that is being actively involved where your customers are. But what do I know, I just work social media for a Fortune 200 company.

Re:Is that really an URL? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38203296)

At least you admit to being a part of the problem. That's the first step.

Re:Is that really an URL? (1)

Asic Eng (193332) | more than 2 years ago | (#38202036)

People share stuff with each other on social media sites. Companies want to get in on that - if someone shares info about their products, that's advertising - fairly cheap advertising. On top of that - this is coming from people's friends, so it's probably much more effective advertising - it is more likely to be read, and more likely to match the receiver's interests.

It seems fairly stupid for a company not to have a Facebook presence under these circumstances.

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