Before going into summer recess, the Rhode Island State Senate passed Senate Bill Number 788 which regulates third-party delivery services. The bill prevents third-party delivery services such as Grub Hub, Door Dash or Uber Eats from using the likeness, registered trademark or intellectual property belonging to a merchant without first obtaining the merchant’s consent. While the General Assembly had been debating the merits of this bill, the Providence City Council had also been working to create similar regulations at the City level.
In April of 2020, Councilwoman Nirva LaFortune first introduced an ordinance targeted at curbing predatory practices of third-party delivery services which had become major components of the hospitality industry during the pandemic. Following extensive community input, as well as meetings with representatives from the third-party delivery companies, the Councilwoman introduced a revised ordinance in January of 2021 which was sent to the full council with a positive recommendation from the ordinance committee. In addition to her advocacy at the local level, Councilwoman LaFortune provided written testimony in support of Senate Bill 788 based upon the feedback received during the local deliberation of her ordinance.
“I commend Senator Lombardi, Representative Craven and all of the legislators who worked on on Senate Bill 788 and House Bill 5346. While third-party delivery services have proven to be an expedient and accessible way to order food, these services can also be exploitative and leave local restaurants on the losing end of this convenient proposition. It is a relief to see measures being taken at the state level to protect local business and small business owners throughout Rhode Island,” stated Councilwoman Nirva LaFortune (Ward 3).
Third-party delivery services became especially popular during the COVID-19 pandemic when take-out has been the safest and easiest way for Rhode Islanders to access their favorite restaurants. However, these services have also caused significant difficulties for partnering restaurants. With the passage of Senate Bill 788, the local ordinance will no longer move forward as the protections that would have been provided at the city level are now in place for businesses throughout the State of Rhode Island as well as Providence.
“As technology advances, it is great to see innovations that make it easier to do things like order food from your favorite restaurant. However, lawmakers at all levels of government should be putting in the work to make sure that the interests of Rhode Islanders and local business owners are being protected from any exploitation or unethical business practices. I look forward to continuing these efforts with my colleagues in government at both the state and local levels,” added Councilwoman LaFortune.
To read the City Council’s proposed ordinance, click here: https://bit.ly/3egypHN
To read Senate Bill Number 788, click here: https://bit.ly/3yTPfEs
To read House Bill Number 5346, click here: https://bit.ly/2VOtNSX