YouTuber who bought, fixed Domino's Pizza car facing legal threats (2024)

JC Reindl|Detroit Free Press

A YouTube personality who spent $525 for a wrecked Domino's Pizza delivery car at a salvage auctionand rebuilt it on camera says he isnow being told to sell the vehicle or face theconsequences of a potential Domino's trademark infringement.

The YouTuber, a Tampa, Fla.-areamanwho goes bySamcrac, documented his extensiverepairs to the Domino's DXP car on video.The subcompactcar, covered in Domino's logos, had been in afrontal collisionandwasinoperable when he bought it inOctoberwith just 2,014 miles on the odometer.

His first video about thecar — "I Bought a WRECKED Domino's Pizza DXP Car for $525 (and we're gonna rebuild it)" — received more than 1.8 million views and led tomultiple follow-upsegments as his repair workprogressed.

He gotparts for the jobby harvesting them off a similar, non-Domino's subcompact car that was damaged in Hurricane Irmaflooding. He snagged that vehicle for $1,500.

To the delight of Samcrac, and the chagrin of the Ann Arbor-based pizza chain, the once-busted Domino'scar is fixedandrunning again.

However, Samcrac emphasized in aphone interview this week that he is not currently driving it.

"The car is not even registered for the road as of right now," he said.

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Samcrac, 29, who won't share his full name, said that people from a Domino's-affiliated organization recently contacted him and offered toeither buy thecar outright, or to come and strip the carof all the DXP features andwrapit instead inSamcrac's favorite sports team's logo.

The callers soundedsurprised that the Domino's car, despite its heavy damage,showed up on a car auction websiteas available for sale.Samcrac questionedwhether they were awarethat auto insurance companies often sell salvaged vehicles to auction companies.

The words that one individualused on the phonewere" 'we thought it would be crushed,' " Samcrac said.

Samcracturned down the callers' offer to buy the car. He wouldn't specify how much money he was offered, but a Domino's Pizza spokespersonrecently toldJalopnik newsthe offerwas $10,000and came from theDomino's franchisee who previously owned the car.

Domino's also told the news website that Samcrac countered the$10,000 offerwith arequest for $90,000,which wasn't accepted.

For his part, Samcrac saidhe also suggested over the phone that he and Domino's join hands for a charitable cause andpackthe DXPcar with 80 pizzas (itsmaximum pie capacity) anddonatethem to a local school for students with disabilities.

"This idea seemed to be received well,"Samcrac said in a later video, "but they let me know that their end goal was to get this car back."

Samcrac said he then received a letter from an attorney whothreatened legal action against him forDomino's trademark infringement.

That prompted Samcrac to producea March 17 YouTube video, titled"I'm being FORCED to RETURN the Pizza Car and NEED YOUR HELP."The video directedviewers to aGoFundMe page toraise money for his anticipated legal battleto keep the Domino's car.

"I didn't know you could force somebody to sell one of their possessions," hesaidin the video.

Samcrac told the Free Press this week that he so far hasn'tbeen sued over the car, but he doesnow havean attorney for any potential fight. He said he is refunding the roughly $6,000in donations raised through the GoFundMe campaign because his viewers were able to connect him to the attorney.

A Domino's representative declined a Free Press interview or toanswer any specific questions about the DXP car.

"This matter involved a DXP belonging to an independent Domino’s franchisee. Domino’s corporate is not involved and not in a position to provide any further comments," the representative,Jenny Fouracre, said in an e-mail.

The DXPis one of about 150 retrofitted subcompacts that the Ann Arbor-based pizza giant introduced in 2015 as its first purpose-built pizza delivery vehicle. The cars, four-cylinder Chevrolet Sparks, feature a pizza warming oven and interior space for 80 pizzas. All seats but the driver's seat wereremoved to make roomfor pizza, drinks and dipping sauces.

Domino's allowedonlyfranchise ownerstobuy the DXPs, which were estimated to cost betweenbetween $20,000 and $25,000 apiece.

There appears to bedisagreement among legal experts as to whether Domino's could have a legitimate trademark infringement claim involving Samcrac'scar.

John Rothchild, associate professor at Wayne State University Law School, said the key question is whether the YouTuber's use of the Domino's-branded car could confusepeople into thinking thathe and the car were actually connected with Domino's Pizza.

Under onehypothetical scenario,if Samcracdecidedto perform a dangerous stunt on the road withthe car that endangered lives, the Domino's brand could be damaged, Rothchild said.

"I think it could be an infringement," he said. "Someone could well be confused into thinking thatDomino's is sponsoring whatever stunt this guy is doing with the car.”

Southfield-based attorneySteve Lehto, who specializes in car consumer cases, also sees a potential trademark violation if Samcrac begins driving the car while it isstill covered in Domino's logos.

"People are going to go, 'Oh, there's a Domino's car.' But it's not a Domino's car," Lehto said.

Headded, "If Domino's does nothing here and they let him rebuildthis car, every next (Domino's) car that goes through an auction is going to get rebuilt and there's going to be a fleet of former Domino's cars on the road."

Yet one attorney saidhe doesn't believe Samcrac wouldviolate Domino's trademarks bytakingthe car for a spin, solong as he doesn't try running a business with it.

TheFlorida-based businessattorney, Lior Leser, explained thisreasoning in his own YouTube video.

"People seeing that car maybe would think that a Domino's employee or franchise or somebody associated with Domino's is driving that car," Lesersaid. "So it might be causing confusion, but not necessarily trademark infringement, because his usage is not commercial— he is keeping it (the car) for himself."

But aslong as Samcrac keeps the carparked and simply shows himself on video repairing it, he is likely not in violation of Domino's trademark, Lehto said.

"What he's done so far probably hasn't caused Domino's harm,"Lehto said.

Contact JC Reindl: 313-222-6631 or jcreindl@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter@JCReindl.

YouTuber who bought, fixed Domino's Pizza car facing legal threats (2024)
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