|Taking the copyright law into your own hands.|
You just can't make up your own rules...
I have a pesky competitor who has no ideas of his own. Years ago he stole my terms of service page verbatim and was so daft that he left my postal contact info on his site.
Since then, he has continued to steal my site piece meal and one bit at a time.
Two years ago he went way over the line and shamelessly stole my entire site concept, appearance and I mean everything but the kitchen sink. It was a clear, malicious attempt at plagiarizing my site as far as he could.
Get ready for a laugh (names changed to reflect the idiocy of the perp):
"Any person who knowingly materially misrepresents [17 U.S.C. Section 512(f) of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act] that material or activity on the web site www.dopey-jerk.com is infringing shall be liable for any damages, including costs, loss of income, and attorneys’ fees, incurred by Dopey Products, LLC, who would be injured by such misrepresentation, as the result of our service provider relying upon such misrepresentation in removing or disabling access to the material or activity claimed to be infringing."
I'd love to see that hold up in a court of law.
What are your thoughts?
My service is trademarked by the USPTO, not just a TM, but a paid, registered TM.
This joker has done everything under the sun to attempt to mimic or pass off his service as mine.
For reference, by definition a trademark is:
"Trademarks include any word, name, symbol, or device, or any combination, used, or intended to be used in commerce to identify and distinguish the goods of one manufacturer or seller from goods manufactured or sold by others, and to indicate the source of the goods. Service marks include any word, name, symbol, device, or any combination, used, or intended to be used, in commerce, to identify and distinguish the services of one provider from services provided by others, and to indicate the source of the services."
Anyone interested in doing a comparison of a classic scammer vs. my legit, original work can PM me.
My next step is exactly how to proceed to fix this guy's wagon for good.
I have a competitor in my space. He's off the deep end, crazy-like. Threatens to sue me every 5 years.
The solution? I've moved on. I ignore him.
@wheel - does he have cause to sue you? Are you copying him? I notice that the guy who copies me completely denies my existence too. The thieves just prefer to ignore their problems.
I was under the impression that if a Trademark owner doesn't defend (legally) the Trademark it could be lost.
Backdraft7; call a lawyer if you haven't already done so.
he doesn't threaten to sue me over trademark. He'll read my site then decide that something I've said is some big slur on him, and away we go. My response is generally "what in heck are you talking about? that's not what that says or means."
The point is he's a combination of nuts and vicious, the best defence is to completely ignore him. I IP banned him from my server, that was another round of crazy I got to experience.
The point is, you can't fix or worry about these people. Ignore them as best you're able.
Wheel.. Whether he threatens to sue on trademarks is less relevant. ken_b is correct, If this person copies your stuff, and if he uses your owned trademarks you need to protect yourself. You must always be able to prove that you "protect" your trademark, or you can lose it for various reasons. No matter how it is registered.
Dilution of trademark is one of the typical dangers to trademarks.
One of the famous cases from business school is Bayer losing the rights to the trademark 'Aspirin', because they did not protect themselves when people started using it in normal speech as a generic term for painkiller. They could not prove that they had attempted to protect their trademark against such dilution. Could not prove that they had tried to assure that 'Aspirin' meant only "Bayer's Aspirin". Now everyone in the world is allowed to sell 'Aspirin'. Had Bayer not lost the court case, you would not see all these bottles with generic 'Aspirin' in all supermarkets.
Similarly, this is also why you cannot go into a restaurant or fast-food place, ask for a 'Coke', and they just hand you a Pepsi, if thats what they happen to be selling. They MUST ask you something like: 'Is a Pepsi Cola OK?' and you accepting the substitution (meaning re-enforcing in people's minds that a 'Coke' and 'something with Cola taste' is NOT the same).
If the term 'Coke' suddenly became synonymous with a generic 'Cola' taste in people's minds, Coca-Cola could lose their trademark, worth billions. Coke and similar companies actually have 'undercover' people going into non-Coke stores/restaurants and asking for Coke, just to see and report what they get (no automatic Pepsi allowed). It is part of proving protection to the authorities, if challenged. Statistics and data on what exactly you have done to protect your trademark and that you really care about it's ownership.
@DeeCee: Welcome to Webmasterworld. Nice examples, and hope to hear more from you in the future.
If the term 'Coke' suddenly became synonymous with a generic 'Cola' taste in people's minds, Coca-Cola could lose their trademark, worth billions.
Uh, it already is synonymous in many places. Entire swaths of the US use words like 'root beer coke' to mean root beer pop/soda.
Wheel.. True.. In many smaller places, those trademark abuses are not being caught, or waiters in restaurants not trained to ask these "questions". So in many cases you actually can go into a restaurant and ask for a coke, having the server simply showing up with a pepsi from the machine. Assuming that to most people it does not matter.
That matters less to Coca-Cola, though.
The intent of being able to show what you have done to protect a trademark is not to catch all the small "abuses" out there. It is to establish a record.
If on the other hand suddenly a new national product hit the market, calling itself "Red Coke", or "Coke Better", ... Whatever, You would suddenly then see Coca-Cola going to court to stop that product from being sold with their trademark on it. In that court case is where they have to show what they have done over time to protect their trademark. Previous court cases, personnel costs watching for abuses, the previously mentioned "policing" visits to various places.
As long as they can prove they care, they would win, and the new unrelated product would have to change its name, and likely pay a penalty.
Thats where Bayer lost (maybe because they are a German company with less enforcement over here).
They went to court and lost their right to the trademark.
So nowadays you can go into Target or CVS and buy containers of pills that simply say "Aspirin" on them, just because they contain the same ingredient as the originally protected Bayer's Aspirin.
Same for other brand-names. Lipitor for example (an $86 Bill product so far to its owner, Pfizer) is currently about to have its patent expire (not the same as the trademark "Lipitor"). Patents expire by time. You only get a certain time to own the patent after an 'invention'.
This means that when the patent on Lipitor (AKA Atorvastatin) expire, we can then all buy much cheaper generic productions of Atorvastatin, but NOT under the brand name 'Lipitor' (that brandname is still protected and owned by Pfizer). We will have to learn the name Atorvastatin as the "active ingredient". :-)
|"Any person who knowingly materially misrepresents [17 U.S.C. Section 512(f) of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act] that material or activity on the web site www.dopey-jerk.com is infringing shall be liable for any damages, including costs, loss of income, and attorneys’ fees, incurred by Dopey Products, LLC, who would be injured by such misrepresentation, as the result of our service provider relying upon such misrepresentation in removing or disabling access to the material or activity claimed to be infringing." |
Something like this is already part of the DMCA, false claims of infringement carry a monetary fine. But if he is really violating your copyrights you don't need to worry about that. On the other hand, if his service is interrupted due to your claim and then reinstated, you must prove that you actually filed a legal claim in court to get him permanently shut down.