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Can a competitor request a 'Shut Down'
Received a letter from a lawyer with the request to shut down my web site

10+ Year Member

Msg#: 191 posted 6:30 pm on Jan 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

I today received a letter from a lawyers firm. In this letter it's stated that

quote:'your company's website is infringing on the "trade dress" of <competitor.com>'s website .... by creating a coycat site for <mydomain.net>'

I have never ever copied anything from their web site. We are online with a successful service since end of 1999 while their web site is on the net since end of 2001.

I'm from Germany and don't know much about the US laws. Perhaps anyone can help me a little bit to get some information / answers:

1.) Can they sue me with the result that I would have to shut down my domain?
2.) How to answer this folks?



WebmasterWorld Senior Member jimbeetle us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Msg#: 191 posted 4:02 pm on Jan 9, 2003 (gmt 0)

There isn't any legal advice in this post, just that I find this truly "chilling."

>>a lot of us would be out selling shoes or used cars to make a living

According to one of these folks' complaints we'd all have problems selling shoes or cars on the net. If your site is named comfortable-shoes dot something you can come after me for stating that I "sell comfortable shoes" and complain to Google that my site comes up in the SERPs.

Likewise, if your site is reliable-used-cars I would not be able to say "our used cars are reliable."

And sadly, two of the three sites named in the complaint are no longer listed by Google. I am very curious as to whether the complaint has anything to do with it.


10+ Year Member

Msg#: 191 posted 4:04 pm on Jan 9, 2003 (gmt 0)

mgream -

I think I understand now. You can register a site design in the UK the same way you can register it here in the US - with a government agency (e.g., U.S. Copyright Office). Otherwise, some sort of copyright notice on the work is sufficient for purely artistic pieces.

As for logos; patented works; trademarked images, phrases, items, etc.; and other more "physical", identifiable works, a formal filing with a government agency (Patent and Trademark Office in the US) is required as protection for the work/language, etc.

I misunderstood and thought you were referring to some other agency or group specifically established for the purpose of registering websites.


Msg#: 191 posted 10:18 am on Jan 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

It appears as tho Google removed the site afterall. Is that correct?

The exact copyright disputed phrase produced 19,100 results in Google.


10+ Year Member

Msg#: 191 posted 3:33 pm on Jan 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

There were other items disputed besides the one specific phrase, but I had wondered about that phrase myself. It seemed a bit "overly broad", as a lawyer might say in response.

I'll bet if I looked in the Sunday paper, I'd see oodles of advertising that uses that particular phrase!

Rainbow can probably petition Google to get his site re-listed, but it's a pain that they listened to the other about this one. I hope they've got better reasons for removing the site above and beyond that one overly-used phrase!


10+ Year Member

Msg#: 191 posted 11:57 pm on Jan 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

I'm going to add my two cents here. Just remember, it's just my 2 cents and nothing more.
We've operated several websites for some time now. I've had several threats of legal action. Americans love to threaten legal action. I also have a corporate attoney, and he's familiar with Internet law.

Whenever someone threatens something or other, I politely tell them to contact my attorney. Not one has. Not even one. One Seattle business contacted the Nevada State DA, and filed a complaint. They sent several nasty letters, and after I told them to contact my attorney, the matter disappeared. Lawyers, IMHO, are great to have. I wouldn't run a business w/o one.

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