A Kuwaiti blogger was sued after he showed “negative attitude” towards a restaurant in his blog.
It is commonplace to criticize the food in a restaurant once we have gobbled it up. It’s a human trait to not appreciate anything. But if you are in Kuwait, you better keep quiet or you can get sued. A Kuwaiti blogger learnt that the hard way.
Mark decided to try out the new Benihana restaurant that recently opened up in the Avenues in Kuwait. Like a good blogger, he shared his experience about the food, explaining in great details how ‘good’ the negimaki was, and about the ‘ordinary’ Orange Blossom, and also called the Hibachi chicken ‘bad’.
“A few days back I posted about Benihana opening up at the Avenues and last night I decided to pass by with Nat and try it out,” Mark wrote on his blog.
“The service wasn’t too bad for a restaurant that’s just been open for a few days and the staff were really friendly…The problem with my experience last night though was with the food, it was disappointing to say the least,” he blogged under “My Benihana Experience”
“The chicken was very chewy (I could swear it was undercooked if not raw) and tasted terrible. Even after I had the chef add some more teriyaki sauce in hopes of improving the taste it didn’t work. I tried to dip it into the sauces that came with the chicken but it was hard to figure out if they were actually making things worse or not,’ he wrote. “Even the rice and the veggies that came with it tasted bad AND were under cooked.”
Mark took two short videos of the chef preparing the meal, saying the restaurant was known for their live shows when preparing dishes.
“Would I go back to Benihana? No I wouldn’t. Their sashimi and makis are pretty cheap (KD1.5 for 5 pieces of Salmon sashimi for example) but there are two other Japanese restaurants at the Avenues, Wasabi and Maki, and I would prefer either one of those to Benihana, “ he concluded.
The blogger’s honest comments did not garner much liking from Las Palmas, the company that owns Benhiana in Kuwait. The company decided to take legal action against Mark for showing his “negative attitude” towards the restaurant and for filming the videos without permission. They also accused Mark of wanting personal fame by criticizing a well known restaurant and attract more readers to his blog.
The company now wants Mark to pay KD 5,001 ($17, 875) as a first measure and shut down his site before further legal action is taken against him.
Mark, however, is not backing down from his comments made, and hopes that he wins the case to set an example to other companies.
Benihana have the right to sue me, but I don’t believe I said or did anything wrong and I stand behind everything I said and wrote in that post,” he said.
“I’ve personally been threatened with lawsuits a number of times before, I know another popular blog recently got threatened with a lawsuit from a restaurant as well and I am sure there must be other bloggers who at one point in time have also been threatened. If blogs were recognized like newspapers or magazines, we would all be protected from lawsuits like this. But at the moment we aren’t. I find this unfair and if I end up losing this case what will it mean to all the other bloggers? Should bloggers be afraid to say anything negative about a company? Should all our posts just be happy happy joy joy? I’m hopefully not going to lose this case and will try my best to win it and set an example so that other companies understand that if they don’t like something they read on a blog they can’t just sue the blogger.”
“Honestly as much as I am a geek, I never really understood or realized how powerful twitter can be until now. I literally have over 50 pages filled with tweets from people all over the region offering support. It’s really unbelievable and a lot and I mean A LOT of people from Dubai have also been rallying behind me on this and according to one twitterer (is that the right word?) the Benihana topic is currently trending in Dubai at #8.,” he said. “So thank you everyone for your support, I will try my best to keep everyone posted along the way on everything that takes place regarding this case.”
The trial is set for March 8, 2011.