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Feb 21, 2014 01:49 AM

What do you think about the bar that's suing Tableog?

I came across this story today of an exclusive "secret" bar that is suing Tableog to remove the entry about them because it damages their operational strategy of being little-known and hard to find.

I'm curious about your thoughts on this?

Is their complaint really a clever way to gain more attention in the press or do you think they are genuinely trying to retain their secret status?

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  1. So, let's see. If you really want to remain anonymous what would you do; tell your regulars you are moving and then relocate, or tell the world by suing some sort of mass media outlet? Perhaps the dates mentioned in the article can add to this; 2010, open up a secret bar; 2014, Tabelog lists the place; 2014 (although the date is not mentioned) Tabelog is sued. What do you think?

    1. If the bar is not open to the public, it could have a somewhat reasonable case against tabelog and/or the person who posted the review. Of course in all likelihood they're probably just loving the attention, as is tabelog.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Gargle

        from a legal perspective I don't see how they would have a case.

        1. re: Asomaniac

          1. Who owns the rights to their decor?
          2. Does a website have a right to publish photos of the decor of a business that isn't open to the public (if indeed it isn't)? Doesn't it have to cooperate with a copyright/trademark based takedown notice?
          3. Since tabelog is a commercial venture, can they really make any claims based on "freedom of expression"? Seems like a commercial speech issue with tabelog profiting from interfering with the business activities of the private bar.

          If the bar would be in this just for the publicity, wouldn't we know their name by now? Wouldn't the amount sought be higher?

          1. re: Gargle

            I'd guess the news outlet didn't publish the name because they didn't wish to get embroiled in anything...?

            1. re: Kavey

              I should think that as a news outlet they enjoy protections that tabelog doesn't enjoy. So why do you think it is that they (or anyone else) don't publish the name?

            2. re: Gargle

              I don't know the position under Japanese law, but under other laws such as English law, if you are suing for damages, you need to prove loss. What is their loss here? I don't see how they could possibly prove loss.

              They could ask for an injunction to get tabelog to remove the review, but that's quite different from damages.

              Don't think rights to their decor comes into this claim, if the claim is as reported in the article.

        2. What's the bar's name? I'm going to Osaka soon. I can bring some gaijin friends and ring their doorbell jftl.

          1. What do I think?

            That it's a clever way to gain more attention in the press -- but I was curious whether I was being too cynical so hence I wanted to see what others thought of the story.

            I'm the very anthisesis of the kind of hipsters that are more attracted to somewhere because it's unknown and/ or one needs to have contacts to get in so I wondered if my prejudices on that front were making me judge them unfairly!

            2 Replies
            1. re: Kavey

              Your generic cynicism wrt exclusivity is at least partially misplaced. You're missing out on a lot of terrific food (the most terrific food) in Japan if you take the stance that exclusivity is always hipster and/or d-bag bullshit.

              Places that try to achieve some cachet with the masses by giving the impression of being private clubs... there I think you're right in general, although occasionally they too can be very good.

              1. re: Gargle

                No, I don't assume all exclusivity is hipster, but where exclusivity seems to be the whole point, then yeah, I'll miss out...

            2. This type of lawsuit in Japan can take forever and cost a fortune. They can only be doing it for the publicity. Besides, if the door is never unlocked then all they need to do is turn away the uninvited.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Tripeler

                Yes, that's what I thought. Just because lots of people know where you are, doesn't oblige you to let them in if you *genuinely* don't want to.