|A US Company has sent C&D letters to fans|
who have the product name inside their domain name
A US company has sent c&d letters to owners of fansites and ordered them to drop their domain names because they contain the product name.
The product name is actually a fairly common word, but the company maintains that this word cannot be used in the context of the type of product.
(Basically, a widget manufacturer has sent c&D letters demanding that sites like ILovePeachWidgets.com close because they claim to own "Peach" in the context of widgets.)
Is their claim to the word likely legit; can they own the word? I always thought so, but some are questioning it. How can I find out if they own the term Peach when it comes to widgets or if they just own Peach in a particular font, color, etc?
I'm no expert on trademark law (and not a lawyer), but I do know that context counts.
Remember the long battle between the Beatles 'Apple' corporation and the computer people? For years, Apple Computer were stopped from using the word in music-related contexts. It's only the power of the ipod that beat the Beatles this time.
The more 'generic' the trademarked word, the more restricted the area of protection, I think.
If Google had chosen to stick with googol, and trademarked 'googol' for Internet search, they'd have zero chance of stopping you use it for cross-stitch. And if they tried to stop mathematicians using it, they'd have been laughed out of court.
The more generic the term, the less the protection.
For instance, "Apple" will have less protection than "Somertoforume354."
The first thing to do is verify the trademark. Once you find it, find the classes it's trademarked in. Next, determine if you are using it in the way they have it trademarked. Also look to see if your usage falls under a current usage of theirs.
If you don't see any conflicts doing the above, you "may" be ok, but you still may need to fight a legal battle. Seek out a good Intellectual Property lawyer.
One way to do a free, but incomplete, search is to visit the US PTO site. I don't think urls are allowed, so combine those letters and add .GOV. :D
Also make sure you verify exactly what is trademarked, especially if it is a rather generic sounding name.
An example of this is the BEST BUY electronics chain. There is no way they could ever trademark the term "best buy" as it is too generic and it has been around forever. What they have trademarked is the graphic of that big yellow tag with the words "BEST BUY" on it. They just want you to assume that it is on the words themselves.